Archive for December, 2013

Guyana’s mobile sector stimulated by m-payment services launch

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Guyana, a small country with about 780,000 inhabitants, is the only English-speaking nation in South America. Although GDP per capita is among the lowest in the region, GDP growth has been impressive in recent years and economic growth projections to 2015 are encouraging.

Guyana’s fixed-line teledensity is above average for Latin America and much higher than would be expected given the country’s poor economic indicators. Mobile and broadband penetration, however, are well below the regional average.

Liberalisation efforts

Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T), controlled by Atlantic Tele-Network Ltd (ATN), has a monopoly over fixed-line services, but it competes with Digicel in the mobile market.

GT&T’s fixed-line monopoly was renewed for 20 years in December 2010, but before renewing it the government drafted a new Telecommunications Reform bill aimed at opening the telecom sector to competition. The bill was submitted in October 2010 to GT&T and Digicel for their comments, but was abandoned in September 2011 shortly before the national elections.

The new government continues to negotiate telecom reform with GT&T and Digicel, asserting that the international voice and data market will be liberalised in the near future, though no schedule has been set and the outcome remains uncertain.

Broadband market

GT&T’s exclusivity does not extend to the broadband retail market, but the company is the only DSL operator, and the only competition comes from fixed-wireless broadband providers. Mobile companies have not yet launched mobile broadband in Guyana and therefore that option remains unavailable.

Although fixed broadband services have improved, especially since the opening of the SG-SCS submarine cable in mid-2010, they are still comparatively slow and expensive, and the number of broadband subscribers is small.

Mobile market

In the mobile sector, GT&T’s mobile unit, Cellink, competes with Digicel Guyana for market share. Both companies operate GSM/GPRS networks.

Market highlights:

  • The government of Guyana sold its 20% stake in GT&T to Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, a Chinese state-owned company.
  • Guyana’s delayed cable system, linking Georgetown with Lethem in Brazil, includes 560km of fibre-optic cable and a National Data centre.
  • Under its One Laptop per Family (OLPF) scheme, the government has distributed more than 11,000 laptops thus far, with some 70,000 laptops in the program.
  • GT&T blocks internet access for cybercafés that use third party applications for VoIP services.
  • GT&T launched a Mobile Money service in 2013, allowing customers to use their handsets to make financial transactions. The company signed agreements with several utility companies to receive bill payments through the system. In late 2013 Guyana Water signed on to the service, enabling customers to pay water bills using their mobile phones.
  • In 2013 GT&T rolled out a WiFi service across the University of Guyana campus

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Guyana – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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Number Portability becomes operational in Costa Rica

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Since the market was liberalised, Costa Rica’s telecom sector has shown considerable growth in the number of subscribers, revenue and competition. The internet market is particularly vibrant, with emerging fibre broadband deployment, while consumer use of VoIP services has been stimulated by the recent hike in tariffs for fixed-line calls. The mobile market was liberalised in late 2011, and by the end of 2013 the major new competitors Claro and Movistar had captured about 20% of the market.

State-owned ICE remains the dominant provider of fixed-line services, while its subsidiary Racsa offers broadband via cable modem and WiMAX services.

Costa Rica’s broadband market is the most developed in Central America, with the highest broadband penetration for this sub-region. Geographical distribution however is unequal, with a much higher digital gap than in the case of telephone services. Compared with the whole of Latin America, Costa Rica’s broadband penetration lags behind Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and some Caribbean islands.

The DTT market is underway, with the first digital broadcast in 2012. The switch to DTTV is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Market highlights:

  • Internet access is increasingly dominated by the mobile sector, which in early 2013 accounted for 67% of all internet accesses, compared to 37% a year earlier.
  • Sutel has adopted the Long Run Incremental Costs (LRIC) model to calculate access and interconnection rates between operators. All network operators in Costa Rica must grant interconnection to other network operators on a non-discriminatory and transparent basis.
  • The first companies to reach access/interconnection agreements with ICE, in 2010, were cable TV company Tigo, public telephone operator BBG Global AG, and three VoIP providers: Ticom, CallMyWay, and Intertel Worldwide. Tigo was finally able to launch its own cable modem service, becoming the operator to offer internet access in competition with the incumbent.
  • ICE’s prepaid service recycled the accounts of GSM customers that migrated to 3G, but even the number of lines has since proved insufficient.
  • In late 2013 Fonatel received bids from telcos to deliver broadband and fixed telephony services to over 200,000 people. The projected is budgeted at $20 million.
  • Voice tariffs were increased by 83% in late 2013, which has encouraged the rapid growth in VoIP services.
  • ICE in 2013 launched a limited LTE service in late 2013 using the 2600MHz band.
  • ICE finalised its acquisition of 100% of CableVision at the end of 2013, reinforcing its interest in the cable TV market.
  • The telecom sector is showing steady growth, with revenue reaching C$510 billion in 2012.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Costa Rica – Telecoms, IP Networks and Digital Media

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Ecuador – New telecom rule amendments to ensure universal access to ICT

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Supported by continuing growth in GDP, Ecuador is considered one of the better performing economies in Latin America. Nevertheless, GDP per capita remains far below the regional average.

Ecuador’s fixed-line teledensity lags behind that of neighbouring countries, with significant unsatisfied demand. A large portion of the country has little or no fixed telephone coverage, partly because remote mountainous areas make the cost of laying out copper wire prohibitive.

In line with the global trend, Ecuadorians have turned to mobile handsets in preference to the traditional fixed-line phone. The country’s telecom market is heavily skewed towards mobility, with seven mobile phones for every fixed line in service. Nevertheless, the ratio between fixed and mobile accounts has remained stable since 2009.

Although Ecuador has seven fixed-line operators and a large number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), state-owned incumbent CNT dominates the fixed-line and therefore the ADSL market.

The mobile sector is virtually a duopoly between América Móvil’s Conecel (trading as Claro) and Telefónica’s Otecel (trading as Movistar), with CNT (previously Telecsa/Alegro) having a small share of the market.

The government is keen to advance universalisation and improve teledensity, and we can expect CNT to continue its efforts to expand the country’s fixed-line infrastructure. CNT will also continue to capitalise on its ADSL service, which only took off in 2009 and still faces significant unsatisfied demand. A national broadband plan aims to expand and improve internet access for all Ecuadoreans. The fixed broadband market – including both ADSL and cable modem services – should continue to grow by at least 25% annually. The mobile broadband market is also expected to grow strongly in the coming years.

A new Telecom Law has been the subject of national and international controversy, particularly for its treatment of broadcasting. The most controversial points include the redistribution of spectrum and the creation of a regulatory authority in charge of censorship.

Market highlights:

  • The regulator awarded additional spectrum to CNT for the provision of LTE services, with a commercial made launch at the end of 2013.
  • Fixed-line operator Etapa has entered the pay TV market, launching DTH satellite TV services in Cuenca.
  • The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Resources has approved a smart grid policy for Ecuador that could make the country a regional pioneer in this field.
  • In late 2013 the regulator shut down Univisa in Cuenca and Azogues for delivering services in areas where it was not licensed.
  • Supertel recommended legislation which would allow prospective MVNOs to require operators to share their spectrum and other network resources.
  • The government has promoted its National Plan for Good Living 2013-2017 for socio-economic development.
  • IT initiative Digital Training through Mobile Classrooms has been praised by ITU as a vehicle for pushing ICT deeper into rural areas;
  • The Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) is expected to be lit in late 2014, dramatically increasing international bandwidth for Ecuador.
  • The first phase of ASO is scheduled for December 2016, with complete transition to digital TV expected in late 2018.
  • The government in late 2013 secured $30 million loan to develop smart metering and extend electricity to 15,000 unserved dwellings.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Ecuador – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Three operators compete with 3G mobile services in Guinea

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Guinea in West Africa has vast mineral resources yet remains one of the poorest countries in the world. With five competing mobile networks, its telecommunications sector has shown triple-digit growth rates for three years in a row following the entry of two world-class international operators, MTN and Orange. The other competitors are Intercel, Cellcom and Lagui, the mobile unit of the national fixed-line operator, Sotelgui.

Following the exit of Telekom Malaysia in 2008, Sotelgui has being prepared for renewed privatisation, creating an attractive opportunity for a strategic investor. Despite the rapid growth in the mobile sector, penetration remains below the African average, while the country’s fixed-line and internet markets are virtually untapped.

Broadband services are still very limited and expensive. The landing of the first international fibre optic submarine cable in 2012, and the setting up of an IXP in mid-2013, will go far to help the nascent broadband market develop by reducing the cost of internet bandwidth and improving the reliability of infrastructure.

The country slipped into a mild recession in 2009, but stable GDP growth of around 5% per year is expected from 2014, possibly reaching up to 20% in 2015 and 2016.

Market highlights:

  • 400 cell towers put up for sale;
  • First ever international fibre optic submarine cable lands;
  • Second privatisation of Sotelgui expected;
  • Mobile Money services launched;
  • The third 3G licence awarded in late 2013;
  • Government secures a US$350 million loan to build a 4,000km fibre backbone network;
  • The number of SMS messages sent in the second quarter of 2013 grew 67% year-on-year;
  • Includes the regulator’s market data to June 2013.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Guinea – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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Investors line up to enter Libya’s telecoms market

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

There is tremendous interest from international investors in the various opportunities to enter the Libyan telecoms market which is being opened up to foreign investment for the first time. So far the line-up includes:

  • Etisalat (UAE)
  • Turkcell (Turkey)
  • Digicel (Bermuda/Jamaica)
  • France Telecom/Orange
  • Vodafone (UK)
  • Orascom (Egypt)
  • Vimpelcom (Russia)
  • Ooredoo (Qatar – formerly Qtel)
  • Zain (Kuwait)
  • Bharti Airtel (India)

It is likely that more names will be added to this list as the terms of the various opportunities become clearer under the new Telecommunications Act which is currently going through the legislative process. Earlier this year the new Libyan government released a tender for management contracts for the country’s two major mobile networks, but then halted it with the new law pending. An initial public offering (IPO) of the leading network, Libyana is now planned for 2014, but it will be aimed at local investors. The other network, Al Madar is supposed to be integrated into the management structure of LAP Green, the government’s international investment arm with telecom operations or licences in nine other African countries, for which there was a takeover bid two years ago which also didn’t go ahead.

There is a third government-owned mobile network, LibyaPhone which is struggling to gain market share, no plans for its future have been announced. Other parts of the complex conglomerate of state-owned telecom companies may be unbundled in the future as well, such as the fixed-line network and national fibre backbone, or the nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband network which has close to 1,000 base station sites.

The country’s first ever private telecom licence is also scheduled to be issued in 2014. This process had already been started under the old government but was disrupted by the outbreak of Libya’s revolution in 2011. Since then, many new ISPs and satellite service providers have already been licensed.

For more information, see: Libya – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband.

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