In June 2021 Liberty Latin America (LLA) announced that it had obtained approval from the telecom regulator Sutel to acquire Telefónica Costa Rica (Movistar) — Costa Rica’s second-largest mobile network operator — for around $500 million. The deal came together just two months after regulatory hurdles scuppered the agreement to sell Movistar to Millicom International Cellular for $570 million. LLA’s purchase must still undergo final analysis by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Telecommunications. Assuming it gets the go-ahead, LLA will be able to offer telecom services across the spectrum in Costa Rica, having previously acquired an 80% share of the fixed broadband and cable TV provider Cabletica in 2018.
The fixed broadband market is one of the few parts of Costa Rica’s telecom sector to experience solid growth in recent years, both in size and revenue. The country’s fibre network expanded substantially between 2019 and 2020, reaching 193,000km. Average data speeds were above 10Mb/s as of early 2021. Fixed-line broadband traffic volumes have also increased by more than 30%, year-on-year. The service providers, consequently, are enjoying strong returns, with revenue increasing by a healthy 8% in the last reported financial year.
Other areas of the market have proven relatively lacklustre, with slow or even negative growth. Some of this can be attributed to the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the fixed-line and mobile sectors have both been struggling to produce decent results since well before the start of the crisis. The rollout of 5G network infrastructure in Costa Rica is unlikely to occur much before 2023, but this may be one of the few remaining areas of opportunity open to investors outside of fixed-line internet and pay TV services.
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Cabletica, Claro, Liberty Latin America, Movistar, RASCA, Telecable, Tigo
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