|Regulator approves Tricom sale – Dominican R.Dominican telecoms regulator Indotel has approved the sale of 88% of Santo Domingo-based player Tricom to multinational Altice, according to an Indotel release.
Tricom’s existing stockholders will control the remaining 12%.
Luxembourg-based Altice has said it will pay US$400mn for its majority share of Tricom, which operates internationally through subsidiaries in Panama and the US.
Through the deal, along with its US$1.4bn purchase last November of Dominican mobile operator Orange Dominicana, Altice will now have about US$1.8bn invested in the country.
Saint Lucia kicks off local IXP – Regional
Saint Lucia has initiated its local internet exchange point (IXP) under the name SLiX, with the aim of enhancing the country’s internet market, according to Caribbean Life news services.
Launched under the World Bank’s Caribbean telecom infrastructure program (CARCIP) and organized by intergovernmental Caribbean Telecom Union (CTU), SLiX is expected to increase access and usage of broadband internet service throughout the region.
CARCIP – a partnership between the World Bank and the governments of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada – has been awarded US$25mn in loans and grants from the World Bank’s International Development Association for the development of ICT related ventures.
Enhanced data transfer speed, reductions in latency, as well as decreased cost due to circumvention of international or third-party networks are some of the benefits said to be realized with the IXP infrastructure.
Cuba to authorize household internet connections – Cuba
Cuba’s sole telecoms provider ETECSA will begin selling household internet on September 15.
According to local daily Diario de Cuba, the firm will charge 10 convertible pesos (US$10) per month for 20hrs of internet, while 50hrs will cost 15 convertible pesos and 220hrs will cost 60 convertible pesos. Additional hours will cost 0.30 convertible pesos.
Internet prices in Cuba have been criticized as being too high, as the average working class Cuban has a monthly salary of around US$20, according to the report.
Connection speeds will be between 2 and 4Mb.
Installation costs are unknown, as is information on whether or not internet navigation will be unrestricted.
Cuba seen as only LatAm “internet enemy,” concerns raised in Venezuela, Colombia – Regional
Cuba’s Ministry of Informatics and Communications is the only Latin American institution to be listed as an “enemy of the internet” in a study by press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders.
The organization also raised concerns regarding recent events in both Venezuela and Colombia, while no other Latin American country was mentioned in the report.
The internet enemy measures institutions based on four criteria; surveillance, censorship, imprisonment and disinformation.
The Cuban government has long blamed its lack of internet access on the US trade embargo, however, the arrival of the ALBA-1 submarine cable from Venezuela last year makes this argument obsolete, and highlights the authorities’ desire to control the network, the report said.
Currently high-speed internet access via ABLA-1 is used online for some government functions, Reporters Without Borders added.
However, the Cuban government has taken some steps to extend internet access in the country, including opening public internet centers to the population, and announcing plans to provide household internet and mobile data services in the near future.
But the necessary infrastructure and funding to for internet services in Cuba, entirely controlled by state telco Etecsa, are still sorely lacking, and costs remain prohibitive for most Cuban citizens, as the average salary in the country reaches around US$20 per month, the report said.
Furthermore, internet connections in Cuba are highly monitored, with citizens required to provide proof of identity to access to government-controlled network, and although the government has unblocked some of its critics’ websites in recent years, it has also continued to arrest bloggers and “netizens” who speak out against the regime.
CONCERNS IN VENEZUELA, COLOMBIA
While it did not list any specific institutions as “enemies of the internet” in Venezuela of Colombia in its 2014 report, Reporters Without Borders did note some concerns in the country.
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro has forced ISPs to filter sensitive content, such as information regarding the unofficial dollar exchange rate in the country, as well as ordering internet service providers to block images on Twitter.
In Colombia, Reporters Without Borders noted that a digital surveillance unit that was almost certainly run by the Colombian government intercepted more than 2,600 emails between international journalists and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) spokespeople during recent peace talks.
The report criticizes the move as the tendency to use national security needs as grounds for denying fundamental freedoms, and also accused government security agencies in the US, UK, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Russia and Sudan of similar practices.
As BNamericas reported, the Latin American region fared quite well in the latest Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, with no country in the region falling in the rankings compared to the previous year.
Telecom Italia calls off dividend payment, mulls tower sales in Brazil and Italy – Brazil, Regional
Italian telecoms carrier Telecom Italia (NYSE: TI) is considering selling towers in Italy and Brazil in the coming months to increase cash and improve financial performance, while it has suspended the payment of 2013 dividends on ordinary shares, company officials told analysts in a conference call on Friday.
The dividend payout on ordinary shares is expected to be resumed in 2015, according to financial VP Piergiorgio Peluso.
Despite these measures, the operator stressed it achieved its debt reduction goals last year. Telecom Italia reported its adjusted net debt fell by 1.46bn euros (US$2.03bn) to 26.8bn euros in late December, said to be in line with analysts’ predictions.
In 2013, the company posted net losses of 674mn euros, down 58.6% from the 1.62bn euros in losses reported in 2012.
Full-year revenue was 23.4bn euros, down 9.1% from 25.8bn euros in 2012. Full-year revenues in Italy decreased nearly 10% to 16.2bn euros.
Brazil, where the company owns TIM Brasil (NYSE: TSU), accounted for roughly a third of the group’s total revenues, or 6.95bn euros in 2013. The result is down 7.1% compared to 2012 in euros, but up 6.2% in reais to nearly 20bn reais (US$8.55bn).
According to the company, operations in Brazil were affected by the weak exchange range, with the Brazilian real falling over 10% against the euro compared to 2012.
In 2013, Ebitda was down 9.4% at 9.54bn euros, with a margin of 40.8%, compared to 40.9% in 2012. Capital expenditure totaled 4.40bn euros in 2013, 239mn euros less than in 2012.
“Despite greater pressure on the Arpu and uncertainty regarding the stability of the revenues, a gradual recovery of the operating performance is expected for the current year in keeping with the dynamics of the 2014-2016 three-year plan,” the company said in its earnings release.