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World Smart City Awards recognise pioneering efforts 26 Nov 2015

The 5th annual Smart City Expo was this year held in Barcelona in November and traditionally brings together representatives from hundreds of cities around the world. In 2015 there were 500 cities, 450 exhibits and 400 speakers involved in the event. As part of the expo an awards ceremony is held to identify the leading Smart City pioneering efforts around the world. Three particular countries were singled out won the 2015 World Smart City Awards:

  • Best City - Peterborough, United Kingdom: is one of five urban labs in which the projects of the UK Future City are being deployed and it was chosen due to its implementation of circular economy strategies and citizens participation.
  • Best Project - Shijiazhuang, China: The Hebei Digital Education Centre was recognised for its use of Big Data analysis and cloud technology in modernising and improving its education provision.
  • Best Innovative Idea – Colombia: The Regional Development Financing innovation, also known as Findeter is developing sustainable infrastructure across Colombia.

India’s Ministry of Urban Development Government was also given an Honorary Award.

For further information and other finalists, see: [].

Kylie Wansink, Senior Analyst, BuddeComm – Global and Middle East Markets

For related information, see separate reports:

Colombia launches phase two of Digital Connections Project 25 Nov 2015

Colombia’s telecom infrastructure is reasonably well developed in urban areas, where service availability is relatively high for Latin America, though facilities remain poor in smaller centres and rural areas. The government has endeavoured to address this with a number of public programs, and has facilitated the entry of operators to the mobile market in a bid to improve competition and extend the availability of mobile broadband services nationally.

The fastest growing sector is in mobile broadband based on LTE infrastructure, as well as fixed broadband in the cable and fibre markets. Fixed-line teledensity in Colombia is well below the Latin American average. There are numerous providers operating municipally, regionally or nationally but the number of lines in service continues to fall steadily, with customers abandoning traditional phones in favour of mobile handsets. This trend is likely to continue into 2016 and 2017 as consumers take advantage of the improved data offerings from upgraded mobile networks and as upgraded broadband infrastructure delivers VoIP to a wider customer base.

Colombia’s broadband penetration is relatively high for the region, though growth in the sector has been hampered by poor fixed-line infrastructure in many departments. Government efforts to improve services in the more deprived areas have had considerable success, leading to far higher growth in the number of broadband subscriptions among the lower socio-economic groups in recent years.

DSL is the leading broadband technology, though cable broadband has grown at a faster rate and by mid-2015 the platform was on a par with DSL in terms of the number of connections. The resurgence of cable modem is largely due to the growing popularity of bundled services which upgraded cable infrastructure can support.

Colombia’s mobile penetration is also relatively high for the region. While market growth has slowed, it retains significant potential, particularly in the mobile broadband sector where penetration is still low. Recent investments in mobile infrastructure has resulted in dramatic growth in the number of LTE-based mobile broadband connections, while during 2015 the number of 3G-based connections began to fall for the first time.

This report provides an overview of Colombia’s telecom infrastructure and regulatory environment, together with profiles of the major fixed-line operators and a range of market statistics and analyses. It also covers trends in the mobile market, including key market statistics and an assessment of the strategies of major mobile operators as well as the main MVNOs. In addition the report reviews the broadband and pay TV markets, including by relevant statistics and forecasts to 2020.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Colombia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

Argentina's telcos encouraged by business-friendly election results 24 Nov 2015

Having rich natural resources, Argentina has created one of the most developed economies in Latin America, with a diversified industrial base, a literate population, and an export-oriented agricultural sector. However, in common with Brazil, Argentina’s economic growth has rarely developed as hoped.

At the recent national elections the electorate returned Mauricio Macri, from the centre-right opposition. The outgoing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose centre-left government had been re-elected in October 2011 for a second four-year term of office, remains a powerful presence. Kirchner is an advocate for human rights, poverty reduction, and public health care. She retains influence among unions as well as the courts and state-owned companies, which contain many of her placemen. Some of her policies, however, had alarmed investors and engendered uncertainty in the country’s economic environment. In particular, the government had a poor relationship with one of the key telcos and broadcasters Grupo Clarín, which has considered that some measures imposed against it have been discriminatory. Much of the animosity between the two dates to 2008, and to Law 26.522 (the Audiovisual Media Law) introduced in 2009 with the aim of reducing Clarín's dominance in the media and broadcasting sectors. The company most recently cited the regulator’s rejection of the sale of 49% stake in Nextel Argentina by NII Holdings to Grupo Clarin, citing irregularities with the $178 million transaction.

By contrast with Kirchner, President-elect Macri has a pro-business political background. Yet his anticipated economic policy may well proved to be divisive, since the electorate has become used to generous, even ruinously so, government spending programs which have contributed to an overvalued currency and high inflation. Still, companies such as Grupo Clarin may find that a new political broom could deliver policies in the telecom regulatory regime which prove more sympathetic to their business aims. For more on developments in Argentina's telecom sector see Argentina - Telecoms Infrastructure, Operators, Regulations - Statistics and Analyses

Chile’s Entel trialling mobile broadband at up to 250Mb/s 24 Nov 2015

Chile’s telecom sector is among the most developed in Latin America, with the modern infrastructure supporting a range of services in the fixed-line, digital media and mobile sectors. Full competition in all market segments has been encouraged by an effective regulatory regime. The country’s market-oriented economy has also made it a popular target with both national and international investors.

Fixed-line teledensity peaked in 2001 and has since fallen, a trend which is being pushed by consumer adoption of mobile services for both voice calls and mobile broadband. This has reduced demand for fixed-line infrastructure but led to a steady climb in the use of mobile voice and data services. The leading fixed-line operator remains the incumbent Telefónica Chile, trading as Movistar, while it faces increasing competition from VTR Globalcom, the GTD group, Entel, and Claro.

The Digital Agenda for 2013-2020 has set out a roadmap for the long-term development of Chile’s ICT sector, including five strategic axes and 30 specific initiatives or goals to facilitate telecom access for all Chilean citizens.

Chile’s broadband penetration is relatively high for the region, with solid GDP providing sufficient disposable income for high-end telecom products. The population is also receptive to new technologies, so encouraging operators to develop services based on LTE and fibre-based broadband infrastructure. Broadband access in Chile is now among the fastest and least expensive in Latin America.

The pay TV market is also one of the most mature in the region, with penetration ranking third in South America after Argentina and Uruguay. By mid-2015 over half of all households subscribed to pay TV services.

In the mobile segment high penetration has resulted in slower growth in recent quarters. Movistar and Entel have a similar market share, while Claro accounts for about 24% of the market and a small number of MVNOs together have 3%. Mobile number portability has helped develop competition and reduce prices for consumers.

A new report from BuddeComm provides an overview of Chile’s telecom sector and regulatory environment, including a range of statistical data and market analyses. The report reviews the mobile market, with profiles of the major mobile operators and key MVNOs, market statistics, details on the deployment of emerging technologies, and scenario forecasts to 2020. It also overviews the internet, broadband and pay-TV sectors, including scenario forecasts.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Chile - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

USA fibre investments encouraging further operator expansion 23 Nov 2015

According to data from the FttH Council, the number of homes passed with fibre in the US increased 13% in 2015, year-on-year, to 26 million. Combined with Canada and Mexico, the number of passed homes has reached 34 million. The take-up rate is excellent by international standards, at more than 50%. Commonly operators look to about 20% to 30% take-up before work can begin on new fibre infrastructure to communities. Yet once the cable is in place a greater proportion of people tend to sign up to services when the improved experience of fibre, against DSL and cable alternatives, is understood and broadcast to other potential customers, often by word of mouth.


The Council has suggested that some 1,000 FttP providers in North America expect to offer a 1Gb/s by 2020.


Certainly the Google factor is important in this market. The company has set in train a number of projects with

municipalities to develop a 1Gb/s fibre networks that would connect hundreds of thousands of people in a number of areas across the country. The first Google Fiber city was Kansa City, the second Austin, Texas, announced in 2013.


During 2015 Google has worked on expanding Google Fiber to Atlanta, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Jose and the North Carolina towns of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. Also benefiting will be more than a dozen smaller towns in the surrounding vicinity of these conurbations. In July this year Google Fiber received a license from the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) to operate as an ISP in San Antonio. Here, the company aims to lay at over 4,000 miles of fibre cabling throughout the city. At the same time it also received a licence from the city council of Tempe, Arizona, to build a similar network.


Each time Google becomes involved in telecommunications it gets international media coverage, and each time it stimulates a familiar response from telcos. These  operators had for long been content to provide customers with services which they deemed adequate, but which customers themselves by and large considered inadequate.  Operators could coast along knowing that they had their customers over a barrel, because there was no effective competition in their licensed areas.


Google changed this by encouraging municipal involvement in broadband infrastructure. Now there is growing pressure from municipalities across the country to override restrictive State-level laws which prevent them becoming involved in telecom services. These communities often club together, as happened recently in Colorado where 26 cities and towns and 17 counties  - 43 communities - all voted  overwhelmingly to give themselves authority for the provision of telecom services. In Colorado the measures reflected years of frustration with the poor services offered by the incumbent telcos.


In general, the telcos' response has been in two forms. On the negative side they have used their lobbying strength to curtail municipal involvement. This looks to be a losing battle. On the positive side they have strengthened their own investment in extending gigabyte services. This really reflects the recognition that they must swim with the tide rather than be borne down by it.


So now we are seeing the Verizons and AT&Ts of the market adding cities to their gigabyte footprints at a considerable rate, while smaller operators are doing likewise. As an example, the regional cableco Cable ONE will extend its gigabyte service across more than 200 towns during 2016, making it available to the majority of its customers by the end of the year. This work is an extension to the residential sector of the 1Gb/s service already offered to business customers, and is a response to customer demand as much as to the general direction that the sector is taking.


For more on these developments in the US fibre market see USA - Fibre to the Premises (FttP) Market - Statistics and Analyses

The Sharing and Networking Economy demonstrate the growing trust in online services 20 Nov 2015

The quick acceptance of the Sharing Economy movement demonstrates the enormous trust and confidence consumers, businesses and government alike now place in online services generally. While social media was quickly accepted and became a huge worldwide phenomenon - the uptake and acceptance of services such as online and mobile shopping, B2B networks, government portals and so on was slow and met with distrust. It appears that now however, as a collective society, we are beginning to embrace the digital tools and services at out fingertips and finally use them to our advantage.

Based on the huge number of internet and mobile users worldwide - it is hardly any wonder that e-commerce and m-commerce are now thriving. The Asia Pacific region, in particular, is considered a key area for future growth and the large populations of the Middle East will also offer future opportunities. New communication and software developments are making it increasingly possible for retailers to offer a seamless shopping experience using all the available shopping channels – mobile devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalogues, and so on.

In our existing climate of digital interaction, the concept of a ‘Sharing Economy’ is gaining momentum. New developments are following in the footsteps of those entrepreneurs who created sites where people share their houses and car spaces. While the sharing economy initially gained traction amongst citizens it is now governments and businesses which are exploring the opportunities the Sharing Economy offers.

M-commerce is one of the hottest topics globally and the market is growing at a staggering rate. While this boom will eventually taper off; m-commerce will remain one of the leading growth areas for some years driven by the younger generation and its mobile-centric lifestyle. Consumers are relying more and more on their Smartphone’s when conducting day-to-day communication and transactions and this will lead m-commerce to account for an ever-increasing proportion of the e-commerce market.

Underpinning many popular online and mobile services is the entertainment industry and in particular the vast array of mobile apps we have access to. This highly competitive industry is flourishing on the back of improved mobile and broadband infrastructure and consumers continue to embrace being entertained by gaming, social media, video streaming, VoD and digital music. Advertising models are expanding in order to capture revenue from an industry where direct revenue-generating business models are not well received by the broader public.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Global Digital and Sharing Economy - Transforming Governments, Consumers and Business

MEA region recognises need for high quality broadband infrastructure 20 Nov 2015

Most Middle Eastern countries which are politically stable are deploying fibre networks at some level. While some countries have embarked on national broadband networks other countries are in the early stages of operator led deployment. Many countries in Africa however have such poor fixed-line infrastructure that telcos and vendors are better placed to invest in mobile infrastructure alone rather than in fixed-line networks. There is some activity in deploying submarine terrestrial cables however and the total length of terrestrial infrastructure has more than doubled during the last five years. Although these efforts have improved connectivity in many areas, and with it the social and economic benefits needed for sustained growth, much more investment is needed for local economies to capitalise on this growth into the future.

While mobile services will continue to be predominant in the MEA region - many countries are recognising that social and economic benefits can be derived from services such as e-health, e-education, e-business, digital media, e-government, smart meters etc and these require high quality broadband infrastructure.

Kylie Wansink Senior Analyst – Global and Middle East Markets

For related information, see separate reports:

Africa - Fixed Broadband Market - Statistics and Analyses;

Region – The Middle East

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