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Latin America Wireless: Central American Boom

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Latin America's largest wireless market Brazil leads real growth, while the smallest one, Cuba, leads in percentage growth.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

 

Central America’s wireless sector is booming. Four Central American countries are among the top ten growing markets in Latin America in percentage terms, while two are among those that are growing most in real terms.  

 

Last year Central America reached a total of 33.0 million wireless subscriptions, an increase of 27.8 percent.  By comparison, Latin America as a whole grew by 20.1 percent and worldwide growth was 18.8 percent, according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of new data from the International Telecommunications Union. In real terms, Central America added 7.2 million new wireless subscriptions.

 

And the potential for future growth is strong. Costa Rica, the second-smallest wireless market in Latin America, is expected to see a strong increase in wireless subscriptions as a result of the liberalization of its market next year, which includes the lifting of the monopoly of state-run telecom ICE.

 

Cable & Wireless Panama, Digicel, Movistar and Tigo have informed Costa Rica’s Superintendence of Telecommunications (SUTEL) of their decision to enter the market, while Claro (the brand owned by Mexico-based America Movil) is also expected to join, according to Signals Telecom Consulting. “These operators will represent significant competition for ICE, mainly in the prepaid market, accelerating the pace of customer acquisition,” Elias Vicente, senior analyst for Signals Telecom Consulting said in a statement.  “The low level of mobile market penetration in Costa Rica, and the incipient prepaid service, makes it an interesting target with high potential for rapid growth in line numbers.”

 

Costa Rica was one of the markets that last year saw the strongest growth in Latin America, boosting wireless subscriptions by 25.1 percent to 1.9 million. That was the tenth-highest growth in the region. Other growth champions include Honduras (up 43.2 percent – the third-highest in Latin America), Nicaragua (43.2 percent) and Guatemala (25.6 percent).

 

CUBA, BRAZIL GROW MOST

Cuba, the smallest wireless market in Latin America, saw the strongest percentage growth last year – 67.3 percent to 331,700 subscriptions, according to the Latin Business Chronicle analysis.

Measured in real terms, Brazil saw the strongest growth, boosting the number of subscribers by 29.7 million to ...



Keywords: Latin America Wireless Ranking, Brazil, Claro, Costa Rica, Digicel, Mexico, Millicom, Movistar, Nicaragua, Panama

 

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