Uruguay’s FttH network passes 540,000 households

Economic background

Uruguay’s GDP per capita was one of the highest performing in the region during 2010 and 2011. It has since slowed to a more moderate 3.5%, a level expected to continue into 2014 and 2015. The country is among the more politically stable in Latin America, is relatively free from corruption and is not prone to the natural disasters which affect other countries in the region, particularly in the Caribbean. The government has been supportive of business, and has pursued prudent macroeconomic policies which have been sympathetic to investment. Transparent regulations, growing domestic consumption, high living standards, and a cheap labour force are expected to continue drawing international capital.

Penetration of telecom services

Bar a few Caribbean islands, Uruguay enjoys the highest broadband penetration in Latin America, the second highest fixed-line teledensity after Costa Rica, and the second highest mobile penetration after Panama. With high literacy rates and widespread computer availability, Uruguay is one of the world’s leading software exporters and South America’s outsourcing hub. In terms of computer penetration, Uruguay tops all other countries in the region by a considerable margin.

Exclusivity and competition

Uruguay is one of the very few Latin American countries where the local fixed-line market is neither privatised nor liberalised. Antel, the state-owned incumbent, has a monopoly in the provision of local telephony and fixed broadband services. Other segments of the telecom market have been opened to competition, including international long-distance telephony, mobile telephony, and fixed-wireless broadband.

Uruguay is also one of the few countries in the world where broadband access via cable modem does not exist. Although cable networks are well equipped technologically, and digital cable TV is widely available, telecom law prohibits data transmission over pay TV networks. There are ongoing discussions over the need to change regulations and permit TV cables to carry data. Cable broadband would help strengthen the pay TV market, make triple-play solutions more widely available, and give customers the freedom to choose their internet provider.

Government broadband initiatives

Antel’s Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) program is by far the most ambitious broadband effort in Latin America. Together with the FttH network, the opening of a new submarine cable system (Bicentenario) in early 2012 has helped boost Uruguay’s internet download speed. International bandwidth tripled as a result of the cable landing.

Antel was also one of the first companies in the region to launch commercial LTE services. The LTE network supplements FttH broadband in areas where the latter is not available. It is intended that the entire population will have access to either LTE, FttH, or both technologies.

Mobile market

Three players compete in the Uruguayan mobile market: Antel, Telefónica’s Movistar, and América Móvil’s Claro. Antel is the mobile market leader, followed by Movistar.

All three mobile operators offer mobile broadband as well as 3G services. Mobile broadband is the fastest growing telecom sector by far. Operators have achieved nationwide UMTS coverage, attracting a growing number of subscribers outside of Montevideo. An estimated 30% of the population have opted for mobile broadband, and the number of subscribers is soaring.

BuddeComm’s report Uruguay – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband, and Forecasts provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications market of Uruguay, including the regulator’s market data for the first half of 2013, updated telcos’ financial and operating data operator, developments in the pay TV sector, and market developments to the end of 2013. It also provides forecasts and analysis on the market for coming years.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Uruguay – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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