ANTEL (Administración Nacional de Telecomunicaciones; Spanish: National Administration of Telecommunications) is Uruguay's government-owned telecommunications company, founded in 1974 as a separate legal entity after spinning off the telecommunications division of UTE, which had the monopoly of landline telephony since 1931. The company has a monopoly of landline telephony and data services in the country. They also provide mobile phone services (in direct competition with Claro and Movistar) and Internet-related services, being the only provider of ADSL and land-line data services because of the monopoly situation.
In 1992, under the presidency of Luis Alberto Lacalle, a privatization of all government-owned companies was attempted. However, a later referendum revoked the privatizations law, being Pluna the only company to be successfully privatized to Varig. Antel enjoys a monopoly on land lines in Uruguay.
As of 2008 ANTEL's monopoly status also forbids cable operators even in larger cities, such as Montevideo, to provide data services (Internet) or voice services along with their cable service.
Antel started deploying fiber to the home in Montevideo in 2012, aiming to switch 240,000 clients that year with a cost of US$180 million. Previous DSL subscribers keep their contract, or may switch to faster Internet Vera plans: 150/12 Mbps for USD 72/month, 120/12 Mbps for USD 61/month, 60/10 Mbps for USD 49/month, or 30/4 Mbps for USD 32/month, throttled back to 10% of those speeds after a 700 / 350 / 400 / 150 GB cap. IP television, voice over IP and connections in the department capitals are expected for 2013 and 2014.
ANTEL owns Uruguay's tallest skyscraper, the Telecommunications Tower, which has 160 meters and 35 floors. It is the tallest building in the country. It was designed by architect Carlos Ott. It is situated by the side of Montevideo's bay.
Uruguay installed its first satellite earth station in 1985 followed by two Intelsat earth stations in 1990. ANTEL, the Aeronautics and Space Research and Diffusion Center and the UdelaR launched the first national satellite for telecommunications on June 2014, the Antelsat.
Antel has been granted monopoly power over most forms of communication carriage in Uruguay, except for wireless voice (mobile only), wireless internet service, wireless broadcast TV and cable TV.
In early August 2016 the Uruguayan supreme court issued a ruling in favor of cable TV company Monte Cablevideo S.A., declaring unconstitutional the law that made it unlawful for cable TV companies to offer Internet service. If this stands, it could represent an historic opening of the hitherto rigidly controlled Uruguayan wired Internet market, a sort of fall of the Berlin Wall in Uruguayan telecom. It would mean that for the first time in Uruguayan history consumers would have a choice of providers when ordering wired Internet service. It would also mean that Uruguay would join the almost unanimous majority of nations in the Americas where cable-delivered Internet is on the menu of Internet access choices (Cuba would be the only remaining holdout.) After the supreme court's announcement there was speculation that the Uruguayan executive branch may continue to block the necessary licenses through its telecom regulating agency (URSEC), though without a legal basis the executive's position would presumably be less tenable. At the end of August the supreme court issued a second similar ruling on the same matter, this time authorizing a different cable company - Nuevo Siglo - to provide the services in question (the Uruguayan legal system does not make the ruling in favor of a company apply to all other companies in that situation.)
For information on specific competitors to Antel in the services where competition is allowed, see Telecommunications in Uruguay
(All u$s figures for FY2011 performance were calculated using 12/31/11 exchange rate of 1 dollar = 19.903 Uruguayan pesos.)
For the fiscal year ending Dec 31, 2011 Antel had revenues of u$s 899,361,905 (17,897,790,000 Uruguayan pesos). This represents 2% of Uruguay's 2011 GDP, putting Antel in the exclusive league of Uruguayan mega-corporations, with a share of the economy slightly higher than that of Chevron in the US. Calculated on a per-capita basis, in 2011 Antel collected u$s 267 of revenue per inhabitant of Uruguay (for comparison purposes the minimum monthly wage of Uruguay as of 2011 was u$s 300) In FY 2011 Antel had net profit of u$s 155,630,000 (3,097,523,000 Uruguayan pesos), or 17.3% of revenues.
Antel has been involved in high profile and somewhat controversial investments, notably a) the purchase of the Telecommunications Tower, the most expensive corporate headquarters in Uruguay for u$s 102,000,000 and b) more recently (April 2013) the announcement of a planned investment of u$s 40,000,000 in a sports arena.
By the year 2014, Antel started the project of "Antel Arena", a basketball field and stadium, this project should be banned by the Uruguayan national constitution, that does not allow any state-owned enterprise to operate out they indicated duties. This project is being carried out anyway.
Many people criticize the amount of money Antel spends in advertising. Even though Antel has a monopoly over some services (e.g. landline telephony and Fiber Optic Internet Access) they are known to advertise in almost every Uruguayan media.