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Lewes, DE -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/09/2014 -- Like the rest of the world, LAC is turning increasingly towards mobile solutions and away from the traditional telephone. In fact, the region is well ahead of the world average, having reached an estimated 115% mobile penetration at end-2013 against a global rate of around 96%. However, about 80% of LAC's mobile subscribers are on prepaid plans. Practically all LAC markets have operating HSPA networks with the exception of Cuba and a few Caribbean island nations. The region has 103 HSPA networks operating in 42 countries, plus there are another 9 networks planned.
LAC's first HSPA+ networks were launched in 2010 by Movistar in Chile (at 42Mb/s) and by Digicel in Bermuda (at 21Mb/s). Since then, 76 HSPA+ networks have been deployed in 37 countries. LTE networks, dubbed 4G, have been spreading across LAC at an impressive rate. The first LAC country to see LTE was Puerto Rico, where three companies launched services in November 2011. Since then, more and more operators have entered the LTE market. Altogether, 38 networks have been deployed in 18 countries, and another 42 operators are planning LTE launches. The region has passed the two-million-subscriber milestone. About three quarters of LAC's LTE subscribers are in Brazil, where concerted endeavours are being made to prepare the country technologically before it hosts the 2014 FIFA cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The popularity of social networks is driving sales in a booming smartphone market. Social phones, which bridge the gap between traditional phones and smartphones, are extremely popular in LAC, as they allow access to mail, Twitter, and Facebook.
Smartphone penetration across the region is escalating; it was an estimated 20% at end-2013, and it is forecast to reach 44% by 2017. Thanks to the increasing availability of lower cost models, smartphones are becoming more accessible to middle and lower income groups. Besides being able to reach more people in a region with poor fixed line coverage, smartphones have another significant advantage when trying to reduce a country's digital gap: they use a simpler technology compared to the standard computer interface. Many people can handle a mobile phone but cannot operate a computer. Therefore, the growing penetration of smartphones could be a way of including digitally illiterate individuals into the Information Society. This would in turn drive growth in the mobile broadband market and help shore up the revenues of telecom operators.
Despite a low 18% teledensity (in most Western European countries teledensity ranges between 40% and 60%), fixed-lines in service have grown little since 2001, with consumers favouring mobile devices over traditional phones. New entrants using VoIP, wireless technologies, or triple play solutions are attracting a growing number of subscribers, but their market share remains comparatively small. Almost invariably, the incumbents continue to dominate the fixed line industry.
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Estimated fixed broadband penetration in LAC was 9.2% per capita at end-2013, slightly below the world average of 9.8% but ahead of other developing regions.
Hurdles in the Latin American broadband market include:
- weak competition and insufficient bandwidth (hence, expensive and/or slow services);
- inadequate fixed-line infrastructure (hence, service unavailability in many areas);
- low PC penetration, poverty, and unequal income distribution (hence, limited demand).
ADSL is the favoured technology in most countries, but low teledensity limits its availability. Cable modem access has been gaining popularity thanks to triple play solutions comprising voice, internet, and video over HFC cables. The largest proportion of cable modem subscribers can be found in Chile, where this technology accounts for about half of the broadband market.
Fibre-to-the-Premise (FttP) is becoming more widely available throughout the region, but subscription fees are extremely high; therefore, the service still only attracts high-income residential customers and small businesses that require fast connections. The future of FttP is particularly promising in Brazil and Uruguay, the first because of preparations for the 2016 Olympics, the second because the government has started to deploy a nationwide FttP network through state-owned Antel.
Spanning over 121 pages, 74 tables, 18 charts, 16 exhibits “Latin America - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband Overview” report covering the Telecommunications Market, Regulatory Environment, Fixed Network Market, Telecommunications Infrastructure, Fixed Broadband Market, Digital Economy, Broadcasting, Mobile Communications, Forecasts.
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