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Johanna Escobar Guerra

COSTA RICA - Telecoms & IT

Rich Connections

Country Manager, Telefonica


Johanna Escobar Guerra has developed a successful career within Grupo Telefónica for almost 20 years, during which she has assumed different positions related to client management. Originally from Guatemala and a master’s degree in business administration and human resources, Johanna Escobar took over the Customer Subdirectorate in 2011 at the startup in Costa Rica.

“We have invested more than USD500 million in infrastructure and platforms.“

Movistar has already reached 2 million users in Costa Rica and has 25% of the market. What strategy did the company implement to achieve this?

Telefonica Costa Rica started operations in 2011 and has created a robust company in only five years that has enabled us to reach 2 million users. New technologies and innovation have been the main drivers of our development in the country. In this context, we have based our operations on three pillars: customer service and the digitalization and simplification of their experience; 3G coverage for 95% of the population and 4G coverage for 70% of the population; and innovation—our Movistar company is focused on developing the most innovative products and services. In addition, our company has taken on an active role when it comes to sponsoring sports events and two key players for the national team, Bryan Ruiz and Keylor Navas. This sponsorship has helped us gain proximity to our users, and we feel extremely proud of being able to support these national heroes.

What is the importance of Costa Rica for the company’s global and regional operations?

We are the youngest companies in the group and Costa Rica. We have invested more than USD500 million in infrastructure and platforms. Penetration levels of technology products are very dynamic and offer great potential, making this market an attractive one for companies such as ours. Costa Rica represents a long-term investment for the company.

What can you tell us about the main products set to be launched in 2017 such as Movistar Play or the Digital Wallet?

We have a strong focus on data, and since we have been innovating since day one, we continuously launch new products and services into the Costa Rican market. In terms of products, we are currently looking into launching Movistar Play, Napster, and Fila Cero. In the future, we will be moving into financial services. However, in Costa Rica we see great potential in SMEs, and for this we have launched products such as SME in a Box and Negocio Smart. For example, according to the Ministry of Economy, 93.4% of the economic contribution of industries comes from SMEs. In our B2B business line, we develop personalized services and products for these companies—micro, small, and medium-enterprises. We try to adapt our services to their budgets and enable them to grow from a technological point of view. We also think this is an interesting sector in which to grow our data center’s activity. Around 93% of our customers are private users and the remaining 7% are companies, including B2B.

Costa Rica’s 3G speed is lower than the world average and its 4G is five times lower. Among the three operators, Movistar has the highest speed and coverage. What further investments plan to you have to increase coverage of your 3G and 4G services?

We reach remote areas of the country in the following two ways. We have coverage agreements within the country that were implemented as soon as those agreements were signed, as well as investments to close the digital gap within the population. Both strategies, but above all the latter, help us reach remote areas of the country. We bring technology to those areas as well as access. For example, Telefonica Foundation takes an active role in this context, and we have gained three projects in the country. One of them has to do with technological training for teachers and students in remote areas of the country. One of the main challenges the industry faces is the tendering of new frequencies expand coverage, for the market is quite saturated. We also need more spectrums to continue investing in innovation in this area.

What are the main challenges of operating in Costa Rica for a company like Telefonica?

This is an interesting market that can serve as testing arena for many multinationals. However, one of the main challenges are the current regulations. In this our efforts have been massive but progress scant. Telefonica has contributed in an important way to the development of the mobile and technological market here in Costa Rica, and this has made us the industry leader. We are a reference in the sector, and innovation has enabled us to become pioneers in many areas. For example, we were the first company to invest in an enterprise incubator in Costa Rica and the region. This project is called Open Future, and we will soon complete the third call for start-up projects. We have also signed an agreement with a couple of municipalities like Heredia and Cartago to transform them into so-called smart cities. These kinds of projects are important in setting us apart from the competition. In this context, innovation also sets us apart, and our leading role in Central America is a major point of attraction for corporate customers.

What are your main goals and objectives for 2017?

Our main objective is to continue serving our 2 million users. We actually have loyalty user plans, where we know the user’s entire journey. We want to continue innovating our services and products for the public and private sector, the former having great potential. We plan to continue expanding our data centers and the data sector.



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