Admittedly, it’s difficult to beat the experience at Fundacíon Origen earlier today. However, we’re here to mix business with pleasure. Our mission to understand how business is conducted across industries in another cultural setting continued with a visit to Entel, Chile’s leading telecommunications company. There’s something to be said about Entel’s tagline: “vivir major conecatado” or “be better connected.” Albeit a stretch of the meanings, there’s a parallel between Entel’s mission and our sense of duty as Neeley Fellows. Entel’s slogan describes what this program has been designed to accomplish—to give individuals the opportunity to become more aware of and familiar with the larger world around them, and the role of corporations and opportunities provided by them within that world. It’s bigger than Fort Worth. It’s bigger than Texas. There’s more to business than just the American model, and we’re starting to truly see that.
Like all businesses, Entel possesses many strengths that are indicative of a promising future, and some challenges that are going to require innovation in order to overcome and remain competitive. For instance, according to consumers Entel is the most respected brand of telecommunications in Chile in terms of quality, advanced technology, customer service, innovations, pioneering cell phones, etc. This certainly aids in penetrating an increasingly extensive mobile network. Other positive notes include “Todo Chile Comunicado”—an initiative to provide 3 million people in 1400 rural areas (which are areas with little population density and are usually not of much economic interest) access and connectivity—a project that is mutually beneficial for both Entel (the opportunity to expand) and the people of Chile (an improved standard of living facilitated by added communicative abilities and convenience). On a less optimistic note, Entel faces the challenge of converting prepaid customers (currently representing 72% of mobile customers) to contract customers (a stark contrast from the majority of U.S. cellular device consumers, which are mostly on contract). Evidently, people in Chile do not like to pay bills, and this is most likely due to the fact that much of the growth in mobile data is attributed to the youth. Other challenges include managing subsidies, dealing with plateau trends associated with landline markets, and providing ways to sustain growth of data as opposed to voice for mobile users.
On another note, a recurring question at many of our corporate visits thus far has been regarding the most recent earthquake and its effect on operations. It appears the consensus “loss/impact” (if any) for most companies came in the form of energy supply, certainly a relief for companies that many aspects of operations are at the mercy of and stand to be affected substantially by a major catastrophe.
Finally, we could not help but mention that we had another rare opportunity to test our lungs and touch the heavens today, traveling to the top of Entel’s cellular tower. The view from here is so inspiring…from here; you can see the pace of the world around you. See for yourself!
It’s certainly appropriate to say that after today, we are certainly better connected, thanks to Entel.