CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas: 01/31/14

CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas: 01/31/14

 

Dominican Republic to build US$62mn national fiber optic network – Dominican R. 

The Dominican Republic is planning to invest US$62mn in building a national fiber optic network as part of a government development program, local daily Diario Libre reported, citing sources from telecoms regulator Indotel.The network would cover 3,000km2 (6.67% of the country) and be completed in five years. According to the paper, the government is currently in negotiations to get half the project (US$30mn) funded by the World Bank.

Indotel reportedly said the infrastructure is designed to help attract fresh investment in telecommunications, tourism, industry, manufacturing and tax free zones.

“The aim is to make the network become the foundation on which ICT can fulfill the role of being the central axis of the national development strategy,” the Indotel source reportedly said. The development strategy aims to have 60% of the population connected to the internet by 2020.

According to the latest statistics from Indotel, in October 2013 there were 3.09mn internet accesses in the country, up 46% from 2.12mn in January of the same year, for a penetration rate of around 32%.

Spanish consulting firm IDOM Ingenieria reportedly carried out feasibility and environmental impact studies for the project.

Indotel said that the organization’s president Gedeón Santos would provide more detail about the project during the “strategic dialogue on broadband and internet development in the Americas” conference due to take place in Santo Domingo on February 10 and hosted by the Inter-American Telecommunication Comission (Citel). Citel is an entity of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Mexico, Ecuador the only major LatAm countries to hit global average connection speeds – Regional

Mexico and Ecuador are the only major countries in Latin America to have average internet connections speeds in line with or above the global average, according to the Q3 State of the Internet study released by internet content delivery network specialist Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM).

In the third quarter of 2013, the global average connection speed maintained an upward trend, growing 10% quarter-over-quarter to 3.6Mbps. That figure was achieved based on connections made only to Akamai’s Intelligent Platform during the quarter.

According to Akamai, Ecuador recorded an average connection speed of 3.6Mbps in the quarter, exactly hitting the global average, while Mexico registered 3.9Mbps. On a comparison basis for the Americas as a whole, Canada’s average connection was 8.8Mbps and the US’s was 9.8Mbps.

Regarding other major Latin American countries assessed in the study, Chile is said to have hit an average speed of 3.3Mbps, followed by Colombia (3Mbps), Argentina (2.8Mbps), Brazil (2.7Mbps), Panama (2.7Mbps) and Peru (2.4Mbps).

Some small Caribbean islands also managed to meet or surpass the global average. This was the case for Grenada, with a 4Mbps average, Trinidad and Tobago (3.8Mbps) and Barbados (3.6Mbps).

Akamai considers “high broadband” connections to be those greater than 10Mbps and “broadband” connections as those of 4 Mbps or more. That means that no country in the Americas region had average connection speeds in the high broadband range as defined by Akamai, while only the US, Canada and Grenada were in the broadband range.

Ecuador saw the largest y-o-y increase in its global average connections speeds in the Americas region, with 53% growth over the 3Q12 figures. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, growth was 23%.

Argentina increased its average speeds by 33% y-o-y and 40% q-o-q, while Venezuela recorded a 41% y-o-y and 18% q-o-q growth.

Worldwide, South Korea continued to be the undisputed broadband leader with a 22.1Mbps average connection speed in the third quarter, according to Akamai.

With regard to average peak connection, the US and Canada again led the Americas with 37Mbps and 34.8Mbps respectively, while Ecuador led Latin America with 18.5Mbps.

Ecuador is followed by Chile (17.2Mbps), Mexico (17.1Mbps), Brazil (16.7Mbps) and Colombia (15.9Mbps).

Roundup: Digicel, Entel, Claro Dominicana – Regional

Caribbean and Central American mobile operator Digicel has become the latest telco to connect to mobile data network services provider Aicent’s regional LTE roaming exchange, Aicent said in a statement.

Digicel subscribers will be able to roam seamlessly between the Caribbean and North America.

Aicent’s LTE roaming exchange is supported by its global IPX network and Diameter routing platforms. Digicel will also be able to eliminate the complexities of interconnection and interworking of global LTE roaming.

Last week Uruguayan state telco Antel connected to Aicent’s LTE roaming exchange and in October last year, Aicent said it had deployed its LTE roaming exchange with 10 regional carriers.

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Chilean telco Entel has become the first Latin American company to join the Global Executive Council of multinational organization Project Management Institute (PMI), Entel said in a statement.

Entel joins some 75 other multinationals, including Microsoft, Dell, Boeing, Airbus and US government space agency NASA, which meet to discuss best practices and leadership in project management.

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Dominican Republic operator Claro has announced it plans to invest 9bn pesos (US$208mn) in infrastructure in 2014, Diario Digital reported.

That amount does not include marketing and other expenses. Investments will go into customer service centers, systems, antennas, fiber to the home, backbone and international connectivity.

Claro has invested US$800mn in a new submarine cable connecting the island to the outside world.

The company, which is a unit of América Móvil (NYSE: AMX), said it had paid 6.472bn pesos in taxes in 2013 to the Dominican government but clarified that it believes taxation is still too high.

In 2013, direct taxation increased 2%, plus a further 10% for selective consumer tax that came as part of a fiscal reform. Total taxes paid were 30%.

Global smartphone sales top 1bn in 2013 – IDC – Regional

Global smartphone unit shipments reached over 1.0bn in 2013, up 38.4% compared to 2012, according to a release by IDC.

Meanwhile, overall handset sales to retailers – including smartphones and feature phones – increased by 4.8% to 1.82bn in 2013, meaning that the total number of smartphone sales surpassed feature phone sales in the year.

Key trends driving smartphone growth include large screen devices and increasing low cost handsets, according to IDC program director Ryan Reith.

The lower cost of smartphone devices is the key factor influencing the rapid expansion in shipments, with individuals in emerging markets such as China and India largely purchasing devices at a cost of less than US$150, he added.

Samsung retained its global smartphone leadership, slightly widening its market share from 30.3% in 2012 to 31.3% in 2013, meanwhile Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) market share dropped from 18.7% in 2012 to 15.3% in 2013.

Chinese player Huawei held its position as the number three smartphone maker worldwide with a 4.9% market share, followed by LG with a 4.8% market share and Lenovo with a 4.5% share, IDC said.

In terms of overall mobile phone shipments, Samsung held its lead of the market with a 24.5% share in 2013, followed by Nokia (NYSE: NOK) with a 13.8% share. The Finnish company is seeing strong declines in device shipments amid increasingly slow demand for feature phones and continuing difficulties to break into the fast-growing smartphone market.

LATIN AMERICA

The number of individuals who own at least one smartphone in Latin America is set to increase to 146mn this year, compared to 114mn at the end of 2013, according to eMarketer.

The region is projected to see the strongest growth in smartphone shipments worldwide through 2017, with annual increases of around 23.7% in that time.

Smartphone shipments to Latin America reached around 91.1mn in 2013 and that figure is expected to increase to 155mn in 2017, IDC said in a separate release.

Lenovo to purchase Google’s Motorola Mobility for US$2.9bn – Regional

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has agreed to sell its Motorola Mobility smartphone business to PC maker Lenovo for around US$2.91bn, according to a Lenovo statement.

Lenovo will acquire Motorola Mobility’s portfolio of smartphones and the Motorola Mobility project roadmap.

Although Google will maintain ownership of the majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, Lenovo will receive a license to the portfolio and an additional 2,000 patent assets, as well as the Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio.

Lenovo will pay US$1.41bn of the agreed price in cash and company shares at the close of the deal and the remaining US$1.5bn will be paid in the form of a three-year promissory note.

The transaction is subject to regulatory requirements, customary closing conditions and any other needed approvals.

With the agreement, Lenovo aims to expand its position in the smartphone market, while it already claims to be the largest PC maker worldwide.