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