Costa Rica - Telecoms IP Networks and Digital Media - Insights and Statistics

Executive summary

Fixed number portability to become available in June 2015

Since the market was liberalised, Costa Rica’s telecom sector has shown considerable growth in the number of subscribers, revenue and competition. The internet market is particularly vibrant, with emerging fibre broadband deployment, while consumer use of VoIP services has been stimulated by the recent hike in tariffs for fixed-line calls. The mobile market was liberalised in late 2011, and by the end of 2013 the major new competitors Claro and Movistar had captured about 20% of the market.

State-owned ICE remains the dominant provider of fixed-line services, while its subsidiary Racsa offers broadband via cable modem and WiMAX services.

Costa Rica’s broadband market is the most developed in Central America, with the highest broadband penetration for this sub-region. Geographical distribution however is unequal, with a much higher digital gap than in the case of telephone services. Compared with the whole of Latin America, Costa Rica’s broadband penetration lags behind Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and some Caribbean islands.

The DTT market is underway, with the first digital broadcast in 2012. The switch to DTTV is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Key telecom parameters – 2014 (e)

Penetration of telecoms services:
Penetration
Fixed-line telephony
19.5%
Fixed broadband
10.9%
Mobile SIM (population)
133.4%

(Source: BuddeComm)

  • Market highlights:
  • Internet access is increasingly dominated by the mobile sector, which in early 2013 accounted for 67% of all internet accesses, compared to 37% a year earlier.
  • Sutel has adopted the Long Run Incremental Costs (LRIC) model to calculate access and interconnection rates between operators. All network operators in Costa Rica must grant interconnection to other network operators on a non-discriminatory and transparent basis.
  • The first companies to reach access/interconnection agreements with ICE, in 2010, were cable TV company Tigo, public telephone operator BBG Global AG, and three VoIP providers: Ticom, CallMyWay, and Intertel Worldwide. Tigo was finally able to launch its own cable modem service, becoming the operator to offer internet access in competition with the incumbent.
  • ICE’s prepaid service recycled the accounts of GSM customers that migrated to 3G, but even the number of lines has since proved insufficient.
  • In late 2013 Fonatel received bids from telcos to deliver broadband and fixed telephony services to over 200,000 people. The projected is budgeted at $20 million.
  • Voice tariffs were increased by 83% in late 2013, which has encouraged the rapid growth in VoIP services.
  • ICE in 2013 launched a limited LTE service in late 2013 using the 2600MHz band.
  • ICE finalised its acquisition of 100% of CableVision at the end of 2013, reinforcing its interest in the cable TV market.
  • The telecom sector is showing steady growth, with revenue reaching C$510 billion in 2012;
  • Claro and Movistar launch commercial LTE services;
  • Full Móvil acquired by Grupo ICE;
  • Tigo rebrands all services as ‘Tigo Star’, extends satellite TV launches to Costa Rica and Honduras.
  • Regulator sets up voluntary registration for prepaid mobile subscribers in a bid to curb theft of devices

Henry Lancaster

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Costa Rica’s telecommunications market. With its long-awaited liberalisation, Costa Rica is an attractive market for telecom investors. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Internet, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media;
  • Broadband market forecasts for selective years to 2020.

Key developments:

Number Portability becomes available, ICE, Claro and Movistar all now operating LTE services; Claro Costa Rica and Movistar Costa Rica granted extension to network rollout deadline; Millicom extends satellite TV service to Costa Rica; regulator considers flat rate charge for mobile internet data use; report includes the regulator’s first market data report, covering 2010 to 2012; telcos’ financial and operating data updates to Q4 2013; market developments to mid-2014.

Companies covered in this report include:

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), RASCA, Tigo, Cable Tica.

This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Costa Rica. It provides further information on:

  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • The impact of the global economic crisis;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Mobile data market developments in coming years in light of spectrum auctions and new license awards;
  • 3G developments, regulatory issues and technologies including HSPA and LTE;
  • Broadband migration to an FttH architecture;
  • Historical and current subscriber statistics and forecasts;
  • ARPU statistics and forecasts.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 Country overview
      • 3.1.1 General outlook
    • 3.2 Overview of Costa Rica’s telecom market
    • 3.3 Market analysis
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Background
      • 4.1.1 General Telecommunications Law
    • 4.2 Regulatory authority
      • 4.2.1 Sutel
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 4.4 Universalisation fund (Fonatel)
    • 4.5 Interconnect
    • 4.6 Access
    • 4.7 Number Portability (NP)
    • 4.8 Tariffs
    • 4.9 DR-CAFTA
  • 5. Fixed network operator in Costa Rica
    • 5.1 ICE
  • 6. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 6.1 National telecom network
      • 6.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
    • 6.2 International infrastructure
      • 6.2.1 Interconnection with other Central American countries
      • 6.2.2 Submarine cable networks
      • 6.2.3 Satellite networks
    • 6.3 Infrastructure developments
      • 6.3.1 IP and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
    • 6.4 Smart metering
  • 7. Wholesale
  • 8. Broadband market
    • 8.1 Overview
      • 8.1.1 Broadband statistics
    • 8.2 Cable modems
      • 8.2.1 Racsa
    • 8.3 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
    • 8.4 Fibre
    • 8.5 Wireless broadband
      • 8.5.1 WiMAX
      • 8.5.2 Internet via satellite
      • 8.5.3 Mobile broadband
    • 8.6 Digital Media
      • 8.6.1 Overview
      • 8.6.2 IPTV (Broadband TV)
  • 9. Broadcasting
    • 9.1 Cable TV
      • 9.1.1 Tigo
      • 9.1.2 Cable Tica
    • 9.2 Satellite-based digital pay TV developments
    • 9.3 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
  • 10. Mobile communications
    • 10.1 Overview of Costa Rica’s mobile market
      • 10.1.1 Mobile statistics
    • 10.2 Regulatory issues
      • 10.2.1 Spectrum auction
      • 10.2.2 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
    • 10.3 Mobile technologies and data services
      • 10.3.1 Overview
      • 10.3.2 Third Generation (3G) mobile networks (UMTS)
      • 10.3.3 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
    • 10.4 Major mobile operator
      • 10.4.1 ICE
      • 10.4.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
    • 10.5 Mobile voice services
      • 10.5.1 Prepaid
    • 10.6 Mobile data services
      • 10.6.1 SMS/MMS
  • 11. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Costa Rica – 2013 (e)
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2014 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2014 (e)
  • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2014 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2014 (e)
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – Telecom sector revenue – 2010 - 2014
  • Table 8 – Revenue market share by sector – 2011 - 2012
  • Table 9 – Evolution of GDP in Costa Rica – 2000 - 2013
  • Table 10 – ICE financial data – 2010 - 2013
  • Table 11 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1997 - 2004
  • Table 12 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 13 –International bandwidth – 1997 - 2012
  • Table 14 – Active VoIP subscriptions– 2010- 2014
  • Table 15 – Fixed-line internet market share of subscribers by operator – 2012
  • Table 16 – Fixed-line and mobile broadband revenue – 2011- 2012
  • Table 17 – Fixed-line and mobile broadband ARPU – 2011- 2012
  • Table 18 – Historic - Internet users and user penetration – 1997 - 2004
  • Table 19 – Internet users and user penetration – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 20 – Broadband subscribers and penetration – 2000 - 2014
  • Table 21 – Broadband market share by technology – 2000 - 2009
  • Table 22 – Cable modem subscribers and household penetration – 2000 - 2014
  • Table 23 – ADSL subscribers and household penetration – 2002 - 2014
  • Table 24 – Fibre broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2014
  • Table 25 – WiMAX subscribers – 2009 - 2014
  • Table 26 – Mobile internet subscribers - 2010 - 2014
  • Table 27 – Mobile internet market share of subscribers by operator – 2012
  • Table 28 – Cable TV subscribers and revenue - 2010 - 2012
  • Table 29 – Market share of cable TV subscribers by operator – 2010 - 2012
  • Table 30 –Mobile revenue by service - 2011 - 2012
  • Table 31 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1998 - 2004
  • Table 32 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2014
  • Table 33 – Market share of subscribers by operator - 2011 - 2012
  • Table 34 – Proportion of prepaid and postpaid subscribers - 2010 - 2012
  • Table 35 – Prepaid and contract subscribers - 2010 - 2012
  • Table 36 – SMS and MMS traffic - 2010 - 2012
  • Chart 1 – ICE financial data – 2010 – 2013
  • Chart 2 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2014
  • Chart 3 – Broadband subscribers and penetration – 2000 – 2014
  • Chart 4 – Cable modem subscribers and household penetration – 2000 – 2014
  • Chart 5 – ADSL subscribers and household penetration – 2002 – 2014
  • Chart 6 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 – 2014
  • Exhibit 1 – ICE at a glance
  • Exhibit 2 – Major submarine cable networks connecting Costa Rica

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