Government requests the regulator to begin spectrum auction process
Since Costa Rica’s telecom sector was liberalised it has shown considerable growth in the number of subscribers for all services. Competition was slow to develop, leaving the state owned operator ICE with a monopoly for a number of years, though there is now effective competition in all sectors. ICE remains the dominant provider of fixed-line services, while its subsidiary RACSA offers broadband via cable modem and WiMAX services.
The number of fixed-lines has fallen in recent years, though the decline has been offset by growing consumer use of VoIP services. This has been stimulated by the recent hike in tariffs for fixed-line calls. The mobile market was liberalised in late 2011, and since then the major new competitors Claro and Movistar have captured a growing proportion of the market.
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 regulator has documented steady increase in overall telecom sector revenue in recent years, with a 17% growth in both 2012 and 2013, climbing to 34% in 2014. Fixed-line voice services accounted for about 5% of revenue in 2014 while revenue from VoIP services, though increasing sharply in recent years, accounted for only 1%. Total investment by operators was equal to 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while revenue accounted for 3% of GDP in 2014.
The Costa Rican telecom sector has showed greater resilience than most in the region, and with the implementation of number portability there is greater scope for increased competition in coming years.
The DTT market continues to develop, with the first digital broadcast made in 2012, though there are as yet few subscribers to the service. The switch to DTTV is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
- Sutel prepares tender for an additional 15 projects funded by Fonatel;
- Telefónica launches OTT Movistar Play service;
- Master Plan for DTT adopted, with analogue broadcasts to close in December 2017;
- Government calls on regulator to begin process to auction 70MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz and 1900MHz/2100MHz bands;
- ICE unifies its two pay-TV operations under a single brand;
- Sutel adopts LRIC model to calculate access and interconnection rates;
- Claro launches triple play bundles;
- Commercial LTE services gain geographic scope;
- Full Móvil acquired by Grupo ICE;
- Tigo rebrands all services as ‘Tigo Star’, extends satellite TV launches to Costa Rica and Honduras.
- Anticipated spectrum auction to bolster reach of LTE;
- Number Portability process reduced to two days;
- Report includes the regulator’s market data report for 2014; telcos’ financial and operating data updates to Q2 2015, recent market developments.
Key telecom parameters – 2015 (e)
|Penetration of telecoms services:|
|Mobile SIM (population)|
Companies mentioned in this report include:
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), RASCA, Tigo, Cable Tica.