Caribbean - Telecoms, Mobile, and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Caribbean - Telecoms, Mobile, and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

  • April 2020 •
  • 234 pages •
  • Report ID: 5761521 •
  • Format: PDF
Given the relative lack of economic diversity within the Caribbean, the telecoms sector accounts for a higher proportion of GDP in most markets in the region than is common elsewhere.

The sector remains one of steady growth, particularly in the mobile telephony and data segments. Although there are a number of smaller players operating, Digicel Group and Liberty Latin America are the dominant providers, with local business units spanning the region. Their fixed-line and mobile infrastructure assets have cemented their position as full-service providers. Competition between them has encouraged investments to expand the reach of fibre networks and LTE, while there is also some interest in 5G infrastructure from Liberty’s mobile unit Flow.
There have been ongoing changes in telecoms regulations across the region, with national regulators focussed on efforts to improve competition and facilitate investment.
The region’s economy is diverse, and often adversely affected by poor weather: some countries (notably Puerto Rico) are still recovering from the effects of hurricanes which swept through in late 2017. The varied economies range from Cuba and Haiti to those states which are focussed on high-end tourism and the financial services sector. Other than tourism, countries in the region have some small-scale primary industries, to a greater or lesser degree based on fisheries, bauxite and other minerals, and timber.
Cuba’s telecom sector remains a peculiarity, with state control having stymied rather than promoted the development of all sectors. The country has the lowest mobile phone and internet penetration rates in the region, while fixed-line teledensity is also very low. Fixed-line and mobile services remain a monopoly of the government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETESCA Cubacel). Nevertheless, reform of the sector, though glacial, is evident in launch of 3G and DSL services and in the growth in the number of Wi-Fi hotspots. 3G is only available to about two-thirds of the population, costs are high, and locals accept that the technology is dated.
Jamaica’s telecom sector is largely propped up by the mobile sector, which accounts for most internet connections as well as a dominant share of sector revenue. Both Digicel Jamaica and Flow provide about 90% population coverage with LTE. Digicel has also launched its MyCash m-money service.
Puerto Rico’s telecom market has been hard hit in recent years by a combination of economic mismanagement and the devastation caused by hurricanes, which led to a marked decline in the number of subscribers for all services. Although Puerto Rico is a US territory it lags well behind the mainland US states in terms of fixed-line and broadband penetration. This is partly due to high unemployment rates (and consequently low disposable income) and poor telecoms investment in a market largely dominated by the incumbent Puerto Rico Telephone Company. The activities of the US-based telcos, including T-Mobile US, Sprint and AT&T continue to impact on the Puerto Rican market. This has recently been seen in these operators securing spectrum in the 600MHz and expanding the reach of LTE services.
The analyst notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:
US government completes second subsea cable, linking Puerto Rico with Guantanamo Bay Naval Base;
Liberty Latin America takes full control of Liberty Cablevisión;
Antigua government to invest EC$80 million during 2019 to improve state-owned telco’s market competitiveness;
Digicel BVI doubles mobile network capacity;
New telecom regulator formed for Cayman Islands;
Digicel Dominica completes LTE network upgrade;
Digicel Bermuda expands FttP-based bundled services;
Bahamas regulator introduces MNP;
Digicel Jamaica launches MyCash m-banking service;
Haiti sets up digital incubator to foster digital economy growth
Report update includes regulators’ annual reports and market updates, operator data to Q3 2018, ITU’s 2017 market data, recent market developments.
Assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector.

Companies mentioned in this report:
Cable & Wireless, LIME, Flow, Liberty Global, Digicel Group, Orange Caraïbes, United Telecommunications Services (UTS), KeyTech, Puerto Rico Telephone Company, América Móvil, AT&T, Liberty Cablevision; OneLink Communications; T-Mobile; Open Mobile; Sprint PCS; Choice Cable
Henry LancasterFebruary 2019

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