By Gram Slattery
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian telecoms provider TIM Participacoes SA launched an expansion of its fiber-to-the-home service outside the country's two biggest cities on Friday, adding to competition for Brazil's high-end broadband customers.
Chief Executive Stefano de Angelis, speaking at a year-end event in Sao Paulo, added that the company was expanding its TIM Live service, a speedy internet service than can support high-quality streaming video, in the South.
His comments reflect how TIM's focus is expanding from its core wireless business into the high-end residential market where rival Telefonica Brasil SA has made great strides since acquiring broadband provider GVT in 2015.
Until Friday, only consumers in the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro could subscribe to TIM's offerings of fiber-to-the-home, a technology that runs fiber optic cables directly to a consumer's home, boosting broadband speeds.
"We'll be investing more and more in residential services, like TIM Live," said de Angelis said, who took over the Brazilian unit of Telecom Italia SpA in the middle of last year.
TIM's expanding fiber network in Brazil has raised questions about potential acquisitions. De Angelis told journalists there were no "transformational" deals imminent, although the company would examine small acquisitions as a means of expansion.
One TIM competitor, Oi SA, is currently struggling with a messy debt restructuring. A consortium of U.S. investment fund TPG Capital Management LP and China Telecom Corp Ltd are considering taking control of the company after creditors approve a plan to take the company out of bankruptcy protection, sources have told Reuters.
Local media have speculated that Oi, which has a geographically expansive fixed-line network in Brazil, would then discuss a possible tie-up with TIM.
Speaking to journalists, de Angelis said TIM would not consider a tie-up "at least" until after a restructuring plan is approved.
"The problems of Oi are financial," de Angelis told journalists. "There hasn't been some great blackout."
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Cynthia Osterman)