El Salvador - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

El Salvador selects ISDB-Tb standard for DTTV services

El Salvador has a small economy and population, while growth in its telecom sector has been restricted by poor infrastructure and unequal income distribution. There have been organisational delays which have retarded the development of DTTV and LTE services, though into 2017 much progress in these areas has been evident. Indeed the telecom sector has been one of the more successful within the overall economy.

El Salvador’s fixed-line teledensity is substantially lower than the Latin American and Caribbean average. However, there has been a significant drop in the number of fixed lines since 2010, largely due to the substitution for mobile-only alternatives.

Mobile penetration is remarkably high considering El Salvador’s economic indicators, being about a third higher than average for Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the estimated total number of telephones in the country, 10% are fixed and 90% are mobile. The country was one of the last in the region to provide LTE services. This was mainly due to the inadequate provision of suitable spectrum. A multi-spectrum auction is expected later in 2017 which will allow the mobile network operators to improve the reach and quality of their LTE offerings. Movistar by mid-2017 offered LTE to all provincial capitals, while Tigo is investing up to $1 billion in network infrastructure to extend LTE to 80% of the population by 2020. The switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, though delayed, will also release valuable spectrum in the 700MHz band for mobile broadband use.

El Salvador’s telecom legislation is one of the more liberal in Latin America, encouraging competition in most aspects of the telecoms sector and permitting foreign investment in all areas. However, there are no regulations as yet which promote wholesale broadband, and thus in the DSL market Claro retains a virtual monopoly. The only effective cross-platform competition in the broadband market comes from the few cable operators. There has been some market consolidation in recent years, and in mid-2017 the regulator stepped in to enforce provisions related to the proposed acquisition by Telemóvil of the regional cable TV provider Caribena Cable.

Through this process of consolidation a few dominant multinational operators have emerged (notably Millicom’s Tigo, América Móvil’s Claro, and Telefónica’s Movistar), which have managed to expand into almost all sectors through a process of convergence.

The mobile market is served by five operators: Tigo, Movistar, Claro, Digicel, and Intelfon. The outlook is especially promising for mobile broadband, where competition between Claro, Tigo, and Telefónica will oblige the operators to diversify services and reduce prices.

Key developments:

  • Competition authority imposes conditions for Telemóvil’s proposed acquisition of Caribena Cable;
  • ISDB-Tb standard chosen for DTTV services;
  • Regulator preps for multi-band spectrum auction later in 2017;
  • Number Portability gains customer popularity;
  • Digicel expands reach of HSPA+ services;
  • Government increases tax on some telecom services to 18%;
  • ASO to be completed by 2018;
  • Central Reserve Bank finalises regulatory framework for mobile financial services; enabling a range of m-payment services via subsidiary companies set up by MNOs;
  • Tigo launches satellite TV service, rebrands cable, broadband and pay-TV services as ‘Tigo Star’;
  • Mobile network operators invest to provide near national mobile broadband coverage;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data updates to December 2016, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q1 2017, recent market developments.

Market penetration rates in El Salvador’s telecoms sector – 2016

Penetration of telecoms services: Penetration
Fixed-line telephony 14.4%
Internet users 38.3%
Fixed broadband 6.0%
Mobile SIM (population) 140.7%

Companies mentioned in this report:

América Móvil (Claro), Millicent International (Tigo), Telefónica (Movistar), Red, GCA Telecom, Salnet, Amnet, Sky TV.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Regulatory authority
    • 5.2 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 5.3 Privatisation of Antel
    • 5.4 DR-CAFTA
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Claro (América Móvil)
    • 6.3 Movistar (Telefónica)
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Interconnection with other Central American countries
      • 7.2.2 Submarine cable networks
      • 7.2.3 Satellite networks
  • 8. Wholesale
  • 9. Fixed-line broadband market
    • 9.1 Market analysis
    • 9.2 Broadband statistics
    • 9.3 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
  • 10. Digital media
    • 10.1 Introduction
    • 10.2 Satellite TV services
    • 10.3 DTTV
      • 10.3.1 Tigo (Millicom)
    • 10.4 Communications
      • 10.4.1 IP and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 11. Mobile market
    • 11.1 Market analysis
    • 11.2 Mobile statistics
    • 11.3 Mobile data
    • 11.4 Mobile broadband
    • 11.5 Regulatory issues
      • 11.5.1 Number Portability (NP)
      • 11.5.2 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
      • 11.5.3 Spectrum auctions
    • 11.6 Mobile infrastructure
      • 11.6.1 Digital networks
      • 11.6.2 Other infrastructure developments
    • 11.7 Major mobile operators
      • 11.7.1 Tigo (Millicom)
      • 11.7.2 Claro (América Móvil)
      • 11.7.3 Movistar (Telefónica Móviles)
      • 11.7.4 Digicel
      • 11.7.5 Intelfon
    • 11.8 Mobile content and applications
      • 11.8.1 Money transfer, m-banking
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics El Salvador – 2017 (e)
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2016
  • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2016
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2016
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – Evolution of GDP in El Salvador – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 8 – Telecom revenue by sector – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 9 – Historic - Claro fixed lines in service – 2003 - 2007
  • Table 10 – Historical - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1997 - 2009
  • Table 11 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 12 – International bandwidth – 2001 – 2016
  • Table 13 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1996 - 2009
  • Table 14 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010- 2018
  • Table 15 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 16 – DSL subscribers – 2003 - 2017
  • Table 17 – Cable broadband subscribers – 2014 - 2015
  • Table 18 – Fibre and other broadband subscribers – 2013 - 2016
  • Table 19 – Fixed broadband connections by access speed – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 20 – TV subscribers by platform – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 21 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1997 - 2009
  • Table 22 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 23 – Mobile operators’ market share – 2003 - 2012
  • Table 24 – Prepaid/postpaid ratio – 2002 - 2015
  • Table 25 – Prepaid/postpaid subscribers – 2008 - 2015
  • Table 26 – SMS traffic – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 27 – MMS traffic – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 28 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 29 – Mobile broadband subscribers by data rate – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 30 – Tigo – mobile subscribers – 1997 – 2017
  • Table 31 – Tigo mobile financial data – 1997 – 2017
  • Table 32 – Historic - Claro – mobile subscribers – 2002 - 2008
  • Table 33 – Historic - Movistar – mobile subscribers – 2000 - 2008
  • Table 34 – Digicel – mobile subscribers – 2003 – 2008; 2014 - 2015
  • Table 35 – Digicel revenue – 2012; 2014 - 2015
  • Table 36 – Historic - RED – mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2008
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005- 2018
  • Chart 3 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2002 – 2018
  • Chart 4 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 – 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – Amnet
  • Exhibit 2 – Tigo/Telemóvil – company history

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