* Communications minister pushes to resolve investigation
* Says intentionally dropped calls would be criminal issue
* Folha reports that TIM misreported indicators to regulator
* Lawmakers seek congressional inquiry into service quality
BRASILIA, Aug 8 Brazil's communications minister
has asked the regulator Anatel to speed up an investigation of
TIM Participaçoes, Brazil's No. 2 wireless phone
company, saying allegations of intentionally dropped calls would
merit legal action.
"If there were fraud, it would obviously leave Anatel's
purview. It would be a problem for the police," Communications
Minister Paulo Bernardo told reporters on Wednesday, saying the
case was very serious.
His comments reinforce growing pressure on the Brazilian
unit of Telecom Italia after Anatel released a report
on Tuesday saying it was investigating whether TIM intentionally
dropped calls by subscribers paying by the call rather than
paying by the minute.
Newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported on Wednesday that TIM
had misrepresented indicators of service quality in its monthly
reports to Anatel, including the number of dropped calls and
A TIM spokesman had no immediate comment on the newspaper
report. TIM has denied deliberately dropping calls and has said
the Anatel report was based on technical errors.
Still, TIM's head of regulatory issues, Mario Girasole, told
reporters on Wednesday that it would take time to restore the
company's public image after news of the Anatel report.
Public outrage over the regulator's investigation has kept
the pressure on TIM following Anatel's nearly two-week
suspension of sales of TIM mobile phone plans in 19 states,
demanding an investment plan to improve service.
The regulator also suspended sales by rival Grupo Oi in five
states and by Claro, a unit of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim's
America Movil, in three states.
Telefonica Brasil, a unit of Spain's Telefonica
, did not have its sales suspended, but also had to
present an investment plan to improve service.
TIM shares gained 1.2 percent to 8.80 reais in Wednesday
trading, while the benchmark Bovespa stock index rose
1.8 percent. The stock has lost 20 percent in the month since
Anatel took a harder line with TIM and rivals.
The Parana state government cited the Anatel report in a
lawsuit filed late Monday aimed at restoring the sales
prohibition that Anatel lifted last week. State prosecutors are
also seeking fines and repayment to some subscribers.
Lawmakers in the capital of Brasilia also filed on Wednesday
to open a congressional inquiry into the quality of cell phone
service in the country, promising to keep the issue in the