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Wireless: Strong Growth Despite Crisis

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Wireless phone vendors like Nokia and operators like America Movil and Telefonica are all seeing strong growth.

BY JOACHIM BAMRUD

Despite the economic crisis, Latin Americas wireless sector is expected to grow nearly 30 percent by 2012, according to a forecast from Finland-based Nokia, the worlds largest wireless phone producer. Spanish operator Telefonica appears to share the optimism, planning to invest at least $17 billion in Latin America over the next five years. Meanwhile, both Telefonica and its rival America Movil report strong third-quarter growth in revenues and wireless subscribers in Latin America, with the latter now boasting a leadership position in both categories.

"When it comes to Latin America, we continue to see important demand from a region that, in some cases, is still adopting cell phone technology – earlier this year cell phone penetration hit almost 70 percent," says Olivier Puech, Latin America vice president for Nokia.  "Some areas in Latin America have never had telephony infrastructure.  From that perspective, despite the global economic slowdown, we continue to address a serious need. "

The Latin American wireless market only grew by 5.5 percent in the third quarter, according to Gartner. That compares with 4.5 percent growth in North America and declines in Western Europe and Japan, but lags the double-digit increases seen in other regions of the world such as Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

“3G promotions have contributed to subscriber growth, however equipment sales have been largely data cards instead of handsets,” Tuong Nguyen, the principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement today. "SIM-only sales have also increased significantly due to competition and regulation, such as Anatel in Brazil forcing operators to sell unlocked phones."

Nokia expects the total number of wireless subscribers in Latin America to reach...

Keywords: America Movil, Argentina, Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Telefonica, Venezuela

 

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