Bolivia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
Bolivia’s Entel intending to fibre all capital cities by 2020
Although Bolivia has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years, GDP remains among the lowest in South America. Many areas of the country outside the main cities are poor and undeveloped, and there is a sizeable proportion of the population which live in remote valleys and areas where telecom infrastructure has been chronically neglected. As a result, the penetration of telecom services is low.
The structure of Bolivia’s fixed telecom market is different from most other countries. Local services are primarily provided by 15 telecom cooperatives. These are non-profit-making companies privately owned and controlled by their users. Since the market was liberalised the cooperatives have also provided long-distance telephony, while several also offer broadband and pay TV services. They have invested in network upgrades in a bid to improve services for customers, and to expand their footprints.
Bolivia has a multi-carrier system wherein consumers can choose a long-distance carrier for each call by dialling the carrier’s prefix. A number of operators have also adopted fixed-wireless technologies, and some rent fibre-optic capacity.
State-owned Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel) is the country’s incumbent long-distance operator, also offering local telephony, DSL and satellite pay TV services. Its subsidiary Entel Movil is Bolivia’s largest mobile network provider.
Bolivia’s fixed broadband services remain the slowest and the most expensive in Latin America. Services are unavailable in many rural and remote areas, and even in some of the major urban areas. Being a landlocked country, Bolivia has no direct access to submarine cable networks and must therefore connect to the rest of the world either via satellite or through terrestrial links across neighbouring countries.
Since it was renationalised in 2007 Entel has focused on providing telecom services in rural areas under a project known as ‘Territory with Total Coverage’. This project aims to increase telecom coverage through mobile rather than through fixed networks.
Bolivia has more than ten times as many mobile phones as fixed lines, and the trend towards fixed-mobile substitution continues. Besides Entel, another two companies offer mobile telephony: Tigo, wholly owned by Luxembourg-based Millicom International, and NuevaTel, trading as Viva and controlled by US firm Trilogy International.
All three mobile companies offer 3G services while LTE is extensively available. Due to the poor quality, high cost, and poor reach of DSL, mobile networks have become the principal platform for voice services and data access. The take-up of services based on LTE has risen steadily as network builds have been increased. Tigo launched the first LTE services in mid-2014 and by mid-2018 the company’s network reached more than 60% of the population. The regulator noted that as of the beginning of 2018 about 90% of all internet accesses were via smartphones.
Entel reiterates plans to extend fibre to all 339 municipal capital cities by 2022;
MNP launched in October 2018;
Government makes progress with National Broadband Plan to 2020;
Entel planning $60 million investment for new Pacific fibre cable route via Peru;
Bolivian Space Agency planning to launch a second telecom satellite after 2020;
Entel contracts Hughes Network to provide its Jupiter platform for a new broadband satellite service;
Viva joins Entel and Tigo with LTE services;
Tigo Bolivia capitalises on cable TV service with new bundled offering including mobile broadband based on its LTE network;
Report update includes the regulator’s market data to December 2017, operator data to Q3 2018, recent market developments.