(Photo: El Universal)

Colombia’s cellphone users will no longer be forced to take on extended-term contracts after communications reforms enacted by the government on Tuesday.

The reform was made in an effort to support consumer rights, Colombia’s Commission for Communications Regulation (CRC) reported in a statement on Tuesday.

“This measure aims to increase competition in the mobile communications market, to allow the user to change operator; providing greater transparency in prices and rate plans from operators, so that users are the beneficiaries,” said Pablo Marquez, director of CRC.

MORE: Colombia Communications minister announces cellphone contract reforms

This latest reform means that consumers with existing cellphone contracts can pay a fee to switch carrier or upgrade their phone. In addition it will now be possible to purchase a phone and apply for a contract separately.

More cell phones than people

The latest reforms will impact the entire country, with reports that there are more cellphones than citizens in the nation.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Communications revealed last week that in the fourth quarter of 2013, there were 50,295,114 registered cellphones in Colombia, which has an estimated population of 48,402,128.

Proportion of Market Control per Company

Comcel – 57.61 %

Colombia Telecom – 24.1%

Colombia Mobile – 15.19 %

Virgin Mobile SAS – 0.88%

Uff Mobile S.A.S. – 0.80%

Other providers – 1.41%

This gives an average of 106.7 mobile subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

MORE: More cellphone contracts than citizens in Colombia

Smartphone use booms

Smartphone use in Colombia has seen a 278% increase in the past year due an increase in social media as well as popularity of applications, such as online banking.

Recent years have seen market competition increase as more competitors enter the market. For example, the arrival of Virgin Mobile in April 2013.

MORE: Virgin Mobile launches in Colombia

Sources

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