2013 Latin America - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband Overview

Publication Overview

This report is essential reading for those needing high-level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in the Latin American and Caribbean region. It provides further information on:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures, and statistics;
  • Government policies and regulatory issues;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Fixed-line market and infrastructure;
  • Broadband market (including ADSL, cable modem, FttH, and WiMAX);
  • Internet and VoIP;
  • Convergence and triple play solutions;
  • Broadcasting (including cable TV, satellite-based TV services, and digital terrestrial TV);
  • Mobile market (including 3G, LTE/4G, and mobile broadband);
  • Scenario forecasts for the fixed-line, mobile, and broadband markets for the years 2015 and 2020.

Researcher:- Lucia Bibolini
Current publication date:- February 2013 (10th Edition)

Executive Summary

The mobile broadband boom in Latin America

BuddeComm’s annual publication, Latin American Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband Overview, provides a comprehensive overview of telecommunications in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a region that includes some of the world’s most important emerging markets.

Most telecom markets in the LAC region have been both privatised and liberalised. Those that are still monopolies are striving towards an open market, but the privatisation trend has been reversed. Two countries (Venezuela and Bolivia) have renationalised their telecom incumbents, while other countries (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Paraguay, Suriname, and Uruguay), where the main telco is still state-owned, are showing no interest in selling it to the private market.

All governments in Latin America have introduced some form of liberalisation, especially in the value-added and mobile markets. A few countries still have a monopoly in the local fixed-line telephony sector, notably Guyana, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

In the broadband sector, most incumbents have secured a virtual monopoly in the delivery of ADSL access. The only competition is across technologies, from cable modem and mobile broadband. Local Loop Unbundling is rare in this region, and wholesale activity not very well developed. The concern governments face is the shortage of fixed line infrastructure, tied to the fear that operators will cease to invest in their network if they are forced to unbundle their local loop or lower wholesale prices.

Fixed broadband market

Estimated fixed broadband penetration in LAC was 8.4% at end-2012, slightly below the world average of 9.2% but ahead of other developing regions such as South Asia and Africa. Nevertheless, Latin America has a long way to go before it can catch up with North America and Western Europe, where broadband penetration is over 30%.

Hurdles in the Latin American broadband market include:

  • weak competition and insufficient bandwidth (hence, expensive and/or slow services);
  • inadequate fixed-line infrastructure (hence, service unavailability in many areas);
  • low PC penetration, poverty, and unequal income distribution (hence, limited demand).

All of Latin America suffers from insufficient international connectivity, both between countries and with the rest of the world, as submarine cables are inadequate to meet the escalating need for bandwidth. This has pushed up broadband prices. In Bolivia, the most expensive country for broadband, 1Mb/s connection costs a staggering 55% of GDP per capita. In other LAC markets, the cost ranges between 1.3% (Uruguay) and 19.5% (Nicaragua) of GDP per capita – while in countries such as Spain and France, 1Mb/s connection costs 0.18% and 0.06% of GDP per capita respectively.

On the positive side, bandwidth has been increasing in most countries, leading to higher speeds and lower prices, while regulators seek measures to promote competition. Given the region’s general economic indicators, there is ample room for expansion.

Mobile broadband market

At end-2012, an estimated 10 million Brazilians used mobile broadband modems connected to their laptops or PCs (4.9% per capita penetration). Indeed, mobile broadband has become an important option for broadband services in the LAC region. The service is commonly used with either a USB modem that plugs into a computer, or with netbooks, notebooks, or laptops that have a built-in receiver.

Practically all LAC markets have operating UMTS networks with the exception of Belize, Cuba, Suriname, and a few Caribbean island nations. UMTS technologies in Latin America include HSPA, HSDPA, HSUPA, and HSPA+. Most operators use HSPDA to provide mobile broadband, multimedia downloads, mobile games, and video calling. Several companies also offer mobile TV.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, dubbed 4G, have been deployed in four Latin American countries, and more are either planned or in trial. The region’s first LTE service was launched by AT&T in Puerto Rico, in November 2011. Another four companies followed suit in December 2011: Claro, also in Puerto Rico; Sky Telecom in Brazil; UNE/EPM in Colombia; and ANCEL in Uruguay.

Market Highlights

  • Telefónica and América Móvil are gradually consolidating mobile and fixed operations under the Movistar and Claro brands respectively.
  • The Brazilian government has issued a broadcasting law opening the cable TV market to fixed-line telcos and foreign investors.
  • The Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) market has finally burgeoned in a few LAC countries – including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Virgin Mobile has launched MVNO services in Chile, and plans to enter Brazil and Colombia in 2013.
  • Chile’s Tower Act, devised for health and environmental reasons, is helping to promote MVNOs and infrastructure sharing.
  • Argentina has become an important manufacturer of cell phones and provides about 80% of all devices sold in the country. Driven by Twitter and Facebook, the combined penetration of smart phones and social phones has overtaken traditional devices in Argentina.
  • Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay launched Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in 2012, later than most of the other major LAC countries – Mexico and Brazil introduced MNP in 2008, Ecuador in 2009, Peru in 2010, and Colombia in 2011. Bolivia has passed a law for the introduction of MNP; but Venezuela and Uruguay have yet to approve MNP legislation.
  • To encourage customer mobility after the introduction of MNP, Chile’s regulator has banned the sale of carrier-locked handsets, and ordered operators to unlock devices free of charge.
  • The Brazilian government wants all major cities to have 4G/LTE services before the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  • Fibre-optic backbone networks are being deployed in Brazil’s major cities as part of a National Broadband Plan.
  • With an investment of US$600 million, Colombia’s National Fibre Optic Project aims to deploy over 15,000km of fibre cable.
  • Peru's national broadband plan aims to provide internet connectivity via a fibre-optic backbone to the more remote regions; it could boost broadband penetration from 4% in 2011 to 9% in 2016.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Key Statistics
  • 2. Telecommunications Market
    • 2.1 Regional overview
  • 3. Regulatory Environment
    • 3.1 Overview
    • 3.2 Privatisation
    • 3.3 Liberalisation
    • 3.4 Number portability
  • 4. Fixed Network Market
    • 4.1 Overview
    • 4.2 Major Fixed-Line Operators
      • 4.2.1 Oi (Telemar)
      • 4.2.2 Telmex (Mexican operations)
      • 4.2.3 Vivo (Telefônica Brasil)
      • 4.2.4 Embratel
      • 4.2.5 CANTV
      • 4.2.6 Telefónica de Argentina (TASA)
  • 5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
    • 5.1 Overview
    • 5.2 Submarine cable systems
    • 5.3 International satellite systems
    • 5.4 Infrastructure developments
      • 5.4.1 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
      • 5.4.2 VoIP
    • 5.5 Wholesale
  • 6. Broadband Market
    • 6.1 Introduction
      • 6.1.1 Broadband statistics for Latin America
      • 6.1.2 ADSL versus cable modem
      • 6.1.3 WiMAX
      • 6.1.4 FttH deployment in Latin America
    • 6.2 Case studies
      • 6.2.1 Argentina
      • 6.2.2 Brazil
      • 6.2.3 Colombia
  • 7. Digital Economy / Digital Media
    • 7.1 Digital Economy
      • 7.1.1 E-commerce
      • 7.1.2 M-commerce
      • 7.1.3 S-commerce
      • 7.1.4 E-Health
      • 7.1.5 E-Education
      • 7.1.6 E-Government
    • 7.2 Digital Media
      • 7.2.1 Overview
      • 7.2.2 Argentina
      • 7.2.3 Brazil
      • 7.2.4 Chile
      • 7.2.5 Colombia
      • 7.2.6 Mexico
      • 7.2.7 Venezuela
  • 8. Mobile Communications
    • 8.1 Overview
    • 8.2 Mobile statistics
      • 8.2.1 Argentina
      • 8.2.2 Brazil
      • 8.2.3 Colombia
      • 8.2.4 Mexico
    • 8.3 Mobile technologies
      • 8.3.1 Overview
      • 8.3.2 Digital
      • 8.3.3 Third Generation (3G) mobile networks (UMTS)
      • 8.3.4 Long-term evolution (LTE)
    • 8.4 Major mobile operators in Latin America
    • 8.5 Mobile voice services in Latin America
      • 8.5.1 Prepaid
    • 8.6 Mobile Messaging
      • 8.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
    • 8.7 Mobile broadband
      • 8.7.1 Overview
      • 8.7.2 Case studies
  • 9. Forecasts
    • 9.1 Overview
    • Table 1 – Regional statistics – 2012
    • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – Latin America – 2012
    • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – Latin America – 2012
    • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – Latin America – 2012
    • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – Latin America – 2012
    • Table 6 – LAC – national GDP and population data (estimates) – 2012
    • Table 7 – Major Latin American countries – fixed lines, Internet users, broadband subscribers & penetration 2012 (e)
    • Table 8 – Oi – fixed lines in service – 1999 - 2013
    • Table 9 – Telmex lines in service and annual change – 2000 - 2011
    • Table 10 – Telefônica Brasil – fixed lines in service – 1999 - 2013
    • Table 11 – CANTV – fixed lines in service and market share – 1999 - 2012
    • Table 12 – TASA fixed lines in service – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 13 – LAC – fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1996 - 2012
    • Table 14 – Top 12 Latin American countries for fixed lines in service – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 15 – Latin America - fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2001 - 2012
    • Table 16 – Latin America - Fixed broadband market share by technology – 2001 - 2012
    • Table 17 – Argentina - Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2001 - 2012
    • Table 18 – Argentina - Fixed broadband market share by technology – 2003 - 2012
    • Table 19 – Brazil - Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2001 - 2012
    • Table 20 – Brazil - Broadband market share by technology – 2002 - 2012
    • Table 21 – Colombia - Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2002 - 2012
    • Table 22 – Colombia - Broadband technologies in Colombia – market share – 2003 - 2012
    • Table 23 – Latin America and the Caribbean – B2C e-commerce spending – 2003 - 2013
    • Table 24 – E-commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean– country share– 2005 - 2011
    • Table 25 – Brazil – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 26 – Mexico – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 27 – Argentina – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 28 – Chile – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 29 – Venezuela – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 30 – Colombia – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 31 – Peru – B2C e-commerce spending – 2005 - 2013
    • Table 32 – Latin America, selected countries – pay TV subscribers and penetration – 2011 - 2012
    • Table 33 – Argentina – pay TV subscribers and penetration – 1999 - 2012
    • Table 34 – Argentina – pay TV technologies – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 35 – Brazil – pay TV subscribers and penetration – 1999 - 2012
    • Table 36 – Brazil – pay TV technologies – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 37 – Chile – pay TV subscribers and penetration – 2006 - 2012
    • Table 38 – Chile – pay TV technologies – 2006 - 2012
    • Table 39 – Colombia – pay TV subscribers and penetration – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 40 – Colombia – pay TV technologies – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 41 – Mexico – pay TV subscribers and penetration – 1999 - 2012
    • Table 42 – Mexico – pay TV technologies – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 43 – Venezuela - Pay TV subscribers and penetration rates – 1997 - 2012
    • Table 44 – LAC – mobile subscribers and penetration - 1998 - 2012
    • Table 45 – LAC – mobile subscribers and penetration by country - 2010 - 2012
    • Table 46 – Major mobile operators – subscribers and market share – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 47 – Argentina – mobile subscribers and penetration – 1998 - 2012
    • Table 48 – Argentina – mobile operators’ market share – 1999 - 2012
    • Table 49 – Argentina – evolution of mobile ARPU by operator – 2008 - 2011
    • Table 50 – Brazil – mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1997-2012
    • Table 51 – Brazil – mobile operators’ market share – 2002 - 2012
    • Table 52 – Brazil – evolution of mobile ARPU by major operator – 2008 - 2011
    • Table 53 – Colombia – mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1997 - 2012
    • Table 54 – Colombia – market share of mobile operators – 2001 - 2012
    • Table 55 – Colombia – evolution of mobile ARPU by operator – 2008 - 2011
    • Table 56 – Mexico – mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2000 - 2012
    • Table 57 – Mexico – mobile market share by major operator – 2001 - 2012
    • Table 58 – Telcel churn, monthly minutes of use and ARPU – 2008 - 2012
    • Table 59 – LAC’s major mobile operators – subscribers and market share – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 60 – América Móvil – subscribers in the LAC region – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 61 – Telefónica – subscribers in the LAC region – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 62 – Telecom Italia – subscribers in the LAC region – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 63 – Millicom International Cellular – subscribers in the LAC region – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 64 – Brazil – mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio – 2002 - 2012
    • Table 65 – Venezuela – SMS messages sent – 2002 - 2012
    • Table 66 – Latin America – UMTS subscribers and penetration - 2007 - 2012
    • Table 67 – Argentina – mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2008 - 2012
    • Table 68 – Brazil – mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2008 - 2012
    • Table 69 – Chile – mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2009 - 2012
    • Table 70 – Chile - Share of mobile versus fixed broadband connections – 2009 - 2012
    • Table 71 – Colombia – mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 72 – Colombia – mobile broadband market share of operators – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 73 – Ecuador - Mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2012
    • Table 74 – Mexico - Mobile broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2012
    • Table 75 – Paraguay - Mobile broadband subscribers and penetration rate – 2009 - 2012
    • Table 76 – Peru – mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2009 - 2012
    • Table 77 – Uraguay - Mobile broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2008 - 2012
    • Table 78 – Venezuela - Mobile broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2012
    • Chart 1 – Oi – fixed lines in service and annual change – 2003 - 2013
    • Chart 2 – Fixed lines in service (million) – top 12 LAC countries – 2012 (e)
    • Chart 3 – Argentina - Fixed broadband technologies at a glance – 2003 - 2012
    • Chart 4 – Brazil - Fixed broadband technologies at a glance – 2002 - 2012
    • Chart 5 – Colombia - Broadband subscribers – market evolution at a glance – 2003-2012
    • Chart 6 – Evolution of e-commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean – 2003 - 2013
    • Chart 7 – E-commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean – country share – 2012 (e)
    • Chart 8 – Evolution of pay TV in Argentina – 2000 - 2012
    • Chart 9 – Evolution of pay TV in Brazil – 2000 – 2012
    • Chart 10 – Evolution of pay TV in Colombia – 2000 - 2012
    • Chart 11 – Evolution of pay TV in Mexico – 2000 - 2012
    • Chart 12 – Argentina – mobile market share at a glance – 2011
    • Chart 13 – Brazil – mobile market share at a glance – 2011
    • Chart 14 – Colombia – mobile subscribers – market evolution at a glance – 2003 – 2012
    • Chart 15 – Mexico – mobile subscribers – market evolution at a glance – 2003 – 2012
    • Exhibit 1 – Oi (Telemar) group at a glance
    • Exhibit 2 – Telmex at a glance
    • Exhibit 3 – Telefônica Brasil at a glance
    • Exhibit 4 – Embratel at a glance
    • Exhibit 5 – CANTV at a glance
    • Exhibit 6 – Telefónica de Argentina at a glance
    • Exhibit 7 – Major submarine cable networks in Latin America
    • Exhibit 8 – Regulatory status of VoIP in selected Latin American countries

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