San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Claro and Movistar could hit market next week

While representatives from cellphone newcomers Claro and Movistar are remaining tightlipped about Costa Rican launch dates, insiders say the companies could go online as early as next week.

Representatives from both companies were on hand at this week’s Telecommunications Expo, an annual trade fair held at the Hotel Intercontinental in Escazú, southwest of San José. The expo ends Friday.

“We have a specific day already chosen,” said Zaida Plácido, marketing director of Claro Costa Rica. “It’s a secret date that we can’t yet announce, but I assure you that we will be offering service any day now.”

Mónica Espinoza, marketing and special events coordinator for Movistar Costa Rica, said only that the company’s much-anticipated launch is “almost here.”

This week, Claro, Movistar and their government-run competitor, Kölbi, provided a sneak-peek of new products and services the companies will offer to entice customers in Costa Rica’s newly opened telecommunications market.

In a hotel room at the expo, Claro displayed dozens of phone models, Internet service packages and gaming systems the company distributes. Claro will offer BlackBerrys, the popular Alcatel One Touch and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, a rival of Apple’s iPad.

Espinoza said the only plan Movistar has officially announced is a ₡10 colones-per-minute discount for Movistar users who call each other on Sundays.

Rebeca Mora, a marketing representative for Kölbi, said that the battle for market supremacy would be decided by each company’s pricing, product and plan offerings. Mora said that customers buying a six-month, year- or two-year plan with Kölbi will be offered deep discounts on phones.

“We are going to offer monthly plans that are accompanied by extremely good deals on phones,” Mora said. “They will be the cheapest prices available for certain phone models.”

Kölbi also presented on Wednesday a new Internet television product called Kölbi TV Digital. The package will include 85 digital channels.

Also this morning, Hannia Vega, vice minister of telecommunications for the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Ministry, unveiled Costa Rica’s new National Broadband Plan. The plan hopes to provide a high-speed broadband Internet connection to a majority of the country, including regions were service is currently unavailable.

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