Compañía Anónima Nacional Teléfonos de Venezuela, known as Cantv, was founded in 1930, and is now Venezuela’s leading fixed, mobile, Internet and data services provider.

Cantv has a mixed ownership structure comprising small shareholders, employees and retirees, domestic and foreign investors, blocks of institutional investors and groups of strategic investors that include the Venezuelan State and global telecommunications companies.

By using state-of-the-art technology and best management practices , Cantv’s has transformed the company into a world-class operator in terms of coverage and quality of service.

Now, after almost 15 years under private management, Cantv is embarking upon a new and challenging stage in its 77 years of service to the people of Venezuela.

However, change is not new to Cantv whose structure underwent numerous changes in the 20th and 21st centuries. Ths first was in 1930 when a concession was granted to Venezuelan entrepreneur Félix A. Guerrero. Between 1952 and 1991 it was under State ownership but was privatized in 1992, and remained so for 15 years until 2007 when it came under the control of the Venezuelan State once more.

1930-1952: The beginning of the copper age

In the latter years of General Juan Vicente Gómez’ government, the then Minister of Development, Gumersindo Torres, granted a concession to build and operate a telephone network in the Federal District and what were then known as the States of the Union.

The beneficiary of this concession was Félix A. Guerrero who, having signed the concession agreement on April 4, 1930, went into partnership with Manuel Pérez Abascal, an entrepreneur, and Alfredo Damirón, attorney. They set up Compañía Anónima Nacional Teléfonos de Venezuela (Cantv) with a paid-in capital of Bs. 500,000, in which Guerrero held 200 shares and Damirón and Pérez Abascal 150 each.

Cantv was formally registered in the Trade Register on June 20, 1930 and ten days later it acquired the Maracaibo telephone company, Compañía de Teléfonos de Maracaibo. In October of that same year it purchased the Venezuelan Telephone and Electrical Appliances Company Limited, an English firm that provided telephone services between Caracas and Puerto Cabello, San Juan de Los Morros, Ocumare del Tuy and Macuto.

That year the first Strowge telephone exchange was inaugurated, using the “step by step” system which marked the start of the automated telephone service and the multiplication of telephone exchanges due to the increase in the number of subscribers.

By 1931 Cantv was still growing fast and bought up the telephone facilities that operated in Ciudad Bolívar.

That September the Ministry of Development declared the International radiotelephone service that operated in the Ministry formally open.  The German company Telefunken was responsible for operating the radioelectric station with a direct communication between Maracay which was General Gómez’ city of residence, Miami (USA) and Europe.

In 1936, General Eleazar López Contreras created the Ministry of Communications, one of its business units being the Directorate of Telecommunications. In that same year the Telecommunications Act was passed and the Federal Telephone and Telegraph Act which had been in effect since 1918, was repealed.

On July 19, 1940 the new Telecommunications Act was passed, assigning the administration of these services to the State.

With the arrival in 1946 of the Government Junta that overthrew President Isaías Medina Angarita, there was a change in the criterion on telephone services that had prevailed up to then.  For instance, services were granted to individuals under operating concessions. From then on the State undertook the contracting and direct management of telecommunications networks.

In 1947, through the Telecommunications Directorate, the services of Ericsson were engaged to set up a telephone system consisting of 1,150 automatic lines and 420 manual lines for the towns and villages in Táchira state. By taking on the operation of the telephone services directly, the State gradually replaced Cantv as the primary private provider of telephone services in Venezuela.

By 1950 there were 48,529 telephone lines in the entire country. In 1951, Cantv developed a plan costing Bs. 59 million to expand and modernize its lines and in five years managed to remedy the shortcomings of the service and expand its network, which was insufficient to meet the growing demand at the time.

In order to develop this plan a Bs. 31 million guarantee from Corporación Venezolana de Fomento (CVG) was required, in addition to a Bs. 5 million cash loan.

The National Executive designed a high-level commission to study the project. In 1953 the Commission decided  to reject Cantv’s requests and this paved the way for a new stage in the history of the Company: The nationalization of Cantv