In AOL Argentina they believe it is time to bet on services


The company providing Internet access began to serve its subscribers in Puerto Rico.

The problem is resolved by clicking on the file and then opening the help window, OK? ”

Phrases like this are repeated in the building of America On Line (AOL) Argentina during the 24 hours since a few days ago, when the call center started operating there, which, from Buenos Aires, also serves the clients of AOL in Puerto Rico. In a large space on the seventh floor with a view of Alem Street, 98 service outlets of the brand new call center are distributed. At the moment, 64 are employed, 50 of them by new employees.

As a result of the devaluation, AOL of Argentina was able to beat Mexico the possibility of serving Puerto Rican customers of the Internet access provider company. The porteño call center handles all calls in Spanish of Puerto Rico and offers help desk services, subscription and cancellation, information and billing.

The novelty is experienced as a birthday celebration at the company because AOL Argentina last Thursday lasted two years in the country.

The company invoices 9.2 million pesos annually and, in addition to adding services such as the call center that has just opened, expects to keep its billing and customer base this year, estimated by the market at 70,000. “Given the current conditions, we aspire to maintain ourselves and if we succeed it will be a good year,” says Osvaldo Setuain, president of AOL Argentina.

When the launch was made in the country, the company projected to reach break even in four years. Due to the local and regional crisis, those numbers should be reviewed next year.

In AOL Argentina they estimate that the advertising billing of Internet companies will continue to fall. “The biggest advertisers were technology companies, which are in a deep crisis, and dot com companies that have almost disappeared, so it’s logical that the decline is greater than in traditional advertising, we estimate that it has dropped 70 percent” , says Setuain. Currently, 18% of the turnover of AOL Argentina comes from this category.

Among the tools to maintain himself, Setuain points out his pricing strategy: “We have not increased the subscriptions of the users who were with us since before December and we have added promotions”.

With regard to the future of Internet access, the president of AOL Argentina believes that “the dial-up service, like ours, will be maintained this year, because while there are some people who migrate to the Internet for free. , I think that number will be compensated by the users of broadband services that will leave them to go to dial up, then the broadband service will decrease and there is likely to be some increase and consolidation for free Internet service companies “, predicts the president of AOL Argentina.

Due to the crisis, many Internet users migrated to free access. “Free Internet is not a business model that interests us and while those who offer it clarify that telephone consumption is increasing, that’s fine, for the time being we will not do campaigns like some of our competitors do (by UOL),” says Setuain.

With regard to the technology landscape for this year, Setuain believes that the equipment in the country is very good, but believes that in telecommunications the service will start to suffer: “Many companies have stopped outsourcing that area and surely the home users will begin to suffer delays to which they were not accustomed, “he says.

The marketing expense of AOL Argentina, which in 2001 was 40 million pesos, this year will be minimal. But the company will continue to make offers to add customers. Three weeks ago launched a promotion by which new subscribers receive a 50% discount on their bill for four months.

According to market sources, AOL Argentina has 70,000 users and is ranked in the ranking of Internet access providers behind Arnet (Telecom), Advance (Telefónica), Ciudad Internet (Grupo Clarín) sharing the fourth place with the Brazilian UOL.

Optimistic forecast
To disembark in Latin America, the American company AOL-Time Warner put together a partnership with the Venezuelan group Cisneros and Banco Itaú, of Brazil. Thus, they created AOLA, which is listed on the Stock Exchange.

In 1999 he made his presentation in Brazil, then came to Mexico, Argentina and Puerto Rico. In the region they had to face heavyweights such as Telmex in Mexico, UOL in Brazil and telephone companies in Argentina.

After two years of operation in the country, Setuain is optimistic about the future, but prefers not to dwell on the effect that AOL Argentina will have on the fact that one of its owners, AOL Time Warner, is investigated by the US Department of Justice. .

“There is confidence that things went well … Speaking of AOLA, here we have been very conservative from the start regarding numbers, to the point that some advertising sales, if they have not been charged, we do not register them,” explains Setuain .


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