Virus impact over each market - telecom operators, government agencies and regulators' responses - revised forecasts for the next 5 years.
Honduras is among the poorest countries in Central America and has long been plagued by an unstable political framework which has rendered telecom sector reform difficult. This has created real difficulties for telcos as well as consumers. Fixed-line teledensity, at only 5.9%, is significantly lower than the Latin American and Caribbean average. Poor fixed-line infrastructure has been exacerbated by low investment and topographical difficulties which have made investment in rural areas unattractive or uneconomical. Consequently, the internet has been slow to develop: DSL and cable modem technologies are available but are relatively expensive and thus take-up has been low thus far, while higher speed services are largely restricted to the major urban centres. Nevertheless, the demand for broadband is steadily increasing and there are been some investment in network upgrades to fibre-based infrastructure.
On the positive side, these factors have encouraged consumer take-up of mobile services, a sector where there is lively competition supported by international investment. Even so, mobile penetration is substantially below the regional average. Revenue growth from the mobile sector looks promising in coming years as operators invest in their networks, expand their reach and upgrade their capabilities to accommodate mobile broadband services. Mobile data as a proportion of overall mobile revenue has increased steadily, though low-end SMS services will continue to account for the bulk of data revenue for some years.
Political developments during the last few years have not facilitated the much-needed reform of legislation governing the telecoms sector. Partly this is due to political stalemate and ineffective legislators, but underlying the difficulties are the close ties between executives at the incumbent Hondutel and key members of the government.
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.
Hondutel, Comunitel, MultiData, Millicom (Tigo), Digicel, América Móvil (Claro).
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