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Costa Rica - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband- Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 21 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 148

Costa Rica’s Fonatel project making continues to make progress

Costa Rica’s liberalised telecom sector saw substantial growth for a number of years, though the level of growth has fallen sharply since 2016, and fell to only 0.3% in 2018, year-on-year. Although the state-owned operator ICE remains the dominant provider of fixed-line services, the regional operators Claro and Movistar are significant players in the important mobile services market. Considerable change to the market emerged from the 2019 sale of Movistar to Millicom International, trading as Tigo. The deal, still to be finalised, was part of a wider plan which also saw Tigo acquire Movistar’s business units in Panama and Nicaragua.

The number of fixed-lines fell for a number of years though more recently the decline has been offset by growing consumer use of VoIP services. This was stimulated by the 2014 hike in tariffs for fixed-line calls.

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 Costa Rican telecom sector has showed greater resilience than most others in the region, and with the implementation of number portability there is greater scope for increased competition in coming years. This has been reflected in the sharp decline in the cost of broadband data in recent years.

In addition, the report covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments

  • Government, telecom regulator and telcos agree on strategy to address COVID-19 crisis;
  • Regulator prepares for 700MHz auction;
  • Telefónica Costa Rica sold to Millicom International;
  • ICE secures access to Telia Carrier's Central America backbone network;
  • Movistar and Claro secure licenses at auction;
  • ICE investing more in multi-technology NGN project;
  • Report includes the regulator's market data reports for 2018; telcos' financial and operating data updates, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), RASCA, Tigo, Cabletica, Claro, Movistar

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