News, views and contacts from the global telecommunications industry

Nuevatel, Bolivia

Key Data

Nuevatel SA is one of the pioneers of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology in Latin America. The company launched its first commercial service in late 2000 in the cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

Nuevatel is controlled by US-based Western Wireless International (WWI), a company with mobile telecoms interests in Iceland, Ireland, Haiti and The Ivory Coast as well the US. The company is owned by Trilogy International Partners LLC, based in Bellevue Washington (67%) and COMTECO (33%).

"In early 2006, there were almost four mobile phones for every fixed line in service."

At this point in Bolivia 2001 the mobile phone penetration was only 6% of the population. Mobile subscribers have outnumbered fixed lines in service since 2000. In early 2006, there were almost four mobile phones for every fixed line in service. Even so, mobile penetration in Bolivia (26%) is still well below the regional average.


In April 2006 NuevaTel announced the investment of US$15m into its network and services. Much of the money is to be used to expand the coverage of the mobile network, marketed under the VivaGSM brand name. NuevaTel plans to focus the expansion on the La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz regions, as well as border towns such as Puerto Suárez. In 2005 the operator invested US$11m to extend GSM services to 17 new localities in Santa Cruz.


In February 2001 Nuevatel signed an agreement with Nokia for the deployment of the Nokia GPRS core network and mPlatform solution in a full GSM roll-out across the country. A full range of commercial services was implemented during the first half of 2001. This initial deal, worth an estimated $25m, covered the supply of a full GSM network including switching, base station systems and radio transmission equipment and also included a professional services contract covering project management, maintenance and training.

Nokia was able to supply the Nokia Artus Messaging Platform, a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) gateway solution for operators, and Nokia Intelligent Network solutions.

Nuevatel markets its GSM services under the 'VIVA GSM' brand and provides mobile communications services utilising GSM in the 1,900MHz band.


During the implementation of the first GSM network Nokia delivered support services, applications, consultancy and systems integration expertise to integrate the GPRS core network into the existing service delivery and billing environment. The agreement allowed Nuevatel to launch a mobile chat application allowing an enhanced easy-to-use group communication service for their subscribers. Nuevatel's initial internet-based service was based on WAP and GPRS.

The Nokia mPlatform Solution included an open application interface, the advanced API, which allowed application developers to easily create and integrate applications on the Nokia mPlatform Solution. Because of this Nuevatel has several high-end services including a mobile mail solution for email service.

During the first half of 2001, because of the technology and foresight of Nokia, Nuevatel was also able to launch new services such as picture messaging, downloadable ringing tones and a mobile portal.


mPlatform Solution is a network and terminal independent solution working across various access methods from WAP and GRPS to 3G and fixed internet technologies. It combines the key elements for offering new value-added messaging and information services for end-users.

It includes core products, such as WAP gateways and profile directories, enhanced access solutions, such as proxy servers and authentication, intelligent middleware and customer-specific solutions.


In March 2003, Comverse, a unit of Comverse Technology, Inc. announced that Nuevatel had chosen the Comverse Prepaid Solution to enable its mobile prepaid services.

The Comverse Prepaid Solution is compatible with Wireless Intelligent Network (WIN), Customised Application of Mobile Enhanced Logic (CAMEL) and other Intelligent Network (IN) standards, allowing Nuevatel more flexibility to offer a variety of feature packages to its subscribers, including various tariff plans, balance notification options, promotions for account recharge, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) based services and Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities.

By deploying the Comverse system, Nuevatel have the advantage of being able to offer a wide variety of differentiated prepaid services, including SMS, data and m-commerce.


Nuevatel approached Nortel Networks in August 2004 with a view to not only upgrading its GSM network, but also readying it for migration to 3G services. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Nortel was tasked with replacing Nuevatel's old GSM network with Nortel GSM equipment, a move designed to increase voice capacity and decrease operating costs.

As a result of the upgrade, Nuevatel has the capacity to offer regional and international roaming services, as well as a full suite of enhanced voice and data services. The network upgrade to make it GPRS compliant and EDGE ready was completed in late 2004 / early 2005.


"The network upgrade to make it GPRS compliant and EDGE ready was completed in late 2004 / early 2005."

Nuevatel announced in April 2005 that it will soon be able to offer VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services over its GSM network to consumers in six cities in Bolivia. The provider also plans to introduce prepaid phone card services.

The services will be driven by's Shout media gateway platform, which provides the integrated functionality of a media gateway, call control component, SS7/C7 signalling point, H.323/SIP inter-working device and a media server, in a single chassis.