Virus impact over each market - telecom operators, government agencies and regulators' responses - revised forecasts for the next 5 years.
The state-owned incumbent, Corporación Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (Copaco) retains a monopoly on all fixed-line voice services, including local telephony, international long-distance telephony, and VoIP. In the mobile market, however, there has been competition since 1998. The internet market is also open to competition, and there are over a dozen ISPs offering services. Copaco lost its monopoly over the international backbone for internet connectivity in early 2009.
Growth in the number of mobile subscribers in recent years has been helped by the poor condition of much of the country’s fixed-line infrastructure. Underinvestment in infrastructure by Copaco has meant that lift Paraguay’s teledensity remains very low for the region. There is little expectation that the situation will be addressed effectively until the operator is restructured. Despite this the number of mobile subscriptions fell in recent years, partly due to economic constraints and partly due to price competition among operators which has made it less attractive to have SIM cards from different networks.
Another major drawback for Copaco and for Paraguay’s telecom sector generally is the country’s landlocked position, which makes it dependant on neighbouring nations for interconnection with submarine cable networks. This has driven up the price of broadband services, hampered growth in the sector and resulted in relatively low penetration. Available technologies include DSL, cable modem, FttP, and WiMAX. Copaco has a near-monopoly in the DSL market, given that there is little regulatory provision for unbundled local loops and other access mechanisms. DSL is the main fixed broadband technology, but it is unavailable in much of the country due to low teledensity. There is a fast-growing fibre broadband market, though the number of subscribers remains small while network builds remain limited to certain pockets within the major cities.
Copaco’s main competitor in the fixed broadband market is Millicom’s Tigo, which offers broadband via cable modem under the brand name Tigo Hogar. The service is available in Asunción and neighbouring towns over a Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) network. Tigo also provides broadband using WiMAX and FttP technologies.
There is effective competition in the mobile market, which is served by four operators: Tigo (the market leader), Telecom Argentina’s Núcleo, América Móvil’s Claro, and Copaco’s Vox. These operators have capitalised on the opportunities created by poor fixed-line infrastructure and by consumer demand for mobile voice and data services. There are about 18 mobile phones in Paraguay for every fixed-line in service, the highest proportion in Latin America.
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.
Copaco, Millicom (Tigo Paraguay), Vox, América Móvil (Claro Paraguay), Grupo Clarin, DirecTV, Personal (Telecom Argentina).
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