MADRID Dec 26 Telefonica said it had
cut overseas call rates in Spain in the company's latest move to
hold onto existing customers in an increasingly competitive
Telefonica's share of the Spanish mobile market dipped to 37
percent in October from 40 percent a year earlier. Virtual
mobile operators and smaller mobile operator Yoigo are
gaining market share with cheap prices, sometimes aimed at
The company's revenues in Spain, where one in four is
unemployed, have also slipped, especially since Telefonica
stopped subsidising handsets in March. It lost 284,000 mobile
connections in October.
Telefonica is fighting back by cutting rates and promoting
service packages, as it also moves to cut a massive debt load.
In July it scrapped its dividend for the first time in more than
The new offer, Habla Internacional, will allow pre-pay
customers to call 40 countries at rates from 0.01 euros a minute
for a fixed charge of 1 euro ($1.32) a month. The rates are
competitive with those of virtual operators Happy Movil and
"The company is continuing to focus its strategy on client
needs with this offer - in this case for those who have family
abroad," Telefonica said in a statement on Wednesday.
It also is betting its quadplay Fusion package, which offers
bundled television, broadband, mobile and fixed line services,
will retain customers. Telefonica said last week it had beaten
its forecast for uptake for Fusion, with 1 million customers
Spain is home to 5.7 million foreigners, around 12 percent
of the population. The biggest foreign community is from
Romania, with large populations also from Morocco, Latin
American countries and Britain.
Virtual mobile operators signed up 78,550 new clients in
October, accounting for 8.5 percent of the Spanish mobile
market, up from 6 percent a year earlier.
($1 = 0.7579 euros)
(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by Julien Toyer and Jane