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Guatemala - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 22 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 98

Telefónica Guatemala sold to América Móvil

Among the poorer countries in Latin America, Guatemala’s telecom infrastructure has suffered from years of underinvestment from state and provincial governments. The poor state of fixed-line infrastructure has led to Guatemala having one of the lowest teledensities in the region. In many rural regions of the country there is no fixed-line access available, and so mobile services are adopted by necessity.

Network upgrades, in both the fixed-line and mobile sectors, have largely been undertaken by the private sector. Private investment has been supported by government and regulatory efforts, resulting in a steady growth in the number of fixed lines which in turn has supported growth in the fixed broadband segment. In the mobile sector operator investments in LTE infrastructure have stimulated the take-up of mobile data services.

Steady GDP growth should provide greater disposable household revenue and so stimulate demand for telecom and ICT services. This could be more marked if the country managed to free itself from its legacy of violence, poverty, and corruption, factors which continue to inhibit prospective investors.

Key players including Telefónica and América Móvil are regional and global powerhouses which can tap into expertise and financial resources to bolster their Guatemalan businesses. In March 2019 Telefónica group sold is local unit to América Móvil, a deal which would create are stronger provider of converged services if it gains regulatory approval.

Given the commercial impetus of operators, insufficient government financial investment has resulted in many regional areas remaining with poor or non-existent services. Nevertheless, the country benefits from one of the most open regulatory frameworks, with all telecom sectors having been open to competition since 1996.

América Móvil controls about 83% of the fixed lines in service through its subsidiary Claro. Mobile telephony is the most developed telecom market sector in Guatemala, accounting for most voice lines and internet access lines. The intense competition among the three operators has helped to improve services and lower prices for end-users. Mobile penetration is on a par with the regional average, though the slower growth in the mobile subscriber base suggests a level of market saturation, with the emphasis among operators being on generating revenue via mobile data services.

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:

  • Telefónica Group sells its local unit to América Móvil;
  • Regulator prepares for 1700MHz spectrum auction in mid-2019;
  • Movistar extends reach of its LTE-A services;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data to December 2018, operators’ data to Q1 2019, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.
  • Assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Tigo (Millicom), Telefónica (Movistar), Claro (Telgua), Guatel, Cablenet, Unitel, Comcel, A-Tel

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