Latin America provides significant geographic and practical opportunities as well as difficulties for telcos, governments and telecom regulators. The diversity of the markets poses its own challenges in terms of maturity, the physical development of networks, economic prosperity and the disposable income available to consumers. In addition there are considerations related to the business environment in the region, particularly in relation to the ease of going business, investment opportunities and the level of sympathy provided by local regulatory regimes. Investment opportunities abound in the Latin American region, though conditions vary significantly between countries. Some governments retain a protective stance towards the incumbent players, which limits the opportunities for competitors in practice.
Mexico a showcase for regulatory progress
Mexico has been at the forefront in this regard in recent years, having passed legislation in late 2013 aimed at reforming its over-concentrated market and encouraging the ability of smaller players to compete against the incumbents Telmex and Telcel. This process is showing dividends into 2016, particularly with the greater involvement of the other key market players Telefonica and AT&T.
Pay TV gaining strength
Across the region, though, the key developments into 2016 will focus on pay TV, where developments have been rapid in recent years, as also in mobile broadband.
These two segments are feeding on the success of satellite and cable TV as well as the proliferation of videostreaming services. These have been able to expand as a result of upgraded fixed-line infrastructure. Mobile broadband has similarly benefitted from operator investments in mobile networks and technologies, particularly with LTE which in early 2016 is commonly providing population coverage of up to 70%. Within the next few years LTE coverage will be far more extensive, and some operators will begin to close down their 2G infrastructure to concentrate on LTE and on upcoming 5G technologies.
FttP networks on the rise
Fibre broadband is also a strong area for growth in coming years. Much of the stimulus for investment is provided by competitive pressure, as well as encouragement from governments which, like their European and North American counterparts, have instituted plans to built national broadband networks. These are aimed at closing the digital divide between urban and rural areas, and at enabling all citizens to make greater use of the socio-economic benefits provided by access to fast broadband infrastructure.
Investments supporting bundled services
Examples of government and telco investment schemes in the region abound. América Móvil, to cite one case, has in train a $50 billion five-year investment program to deploy a 500,000km FttP network across its Latin American markets. The move was in part prompted by the arrival of AT&T into its home Mexican market. For its part, AT&T, which recently acquired two Mexican mobile network operators as well as the regional pay TV operator DirecTV, has ambitions to build up a North American Mobile Service area covering more than 400 million people in Mexico and the US.
For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Latin America – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband Forecasts
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