CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas 04/29/16
|AT&T LatAm operations generate US$1.7bn in Q1 – Regional
|AT&T LatAm operations generate US$1.7bn in Q1 – Regional
US telecom giant AT&T‘s international segment generated US$1.7bn in revenue in the first quarter of the year.
The segment covers wireless services in Mexico as well as satellite entertainment services in Latin America provided under the DirecTV brand.
AT&T’s first-quarter operating expenses in the international segment were US$1.9bn, resulting in an operating loss of US$198mn, the firm said in a statement, attributing the result to ongoing investment in Mexico and the rest of the region.
The company’s consolidated revenue for the quarter was US$40.5bn, up 24% compared with the same period of 2015.
Last quarter AT&T added 116,000 postpaid subscribers and 450,000 prepaid subscribers to its wireless segment in Mexico. The country generated total revenue of US$537mn and accounted for almost a quarter of the company’s overall net adds.
However, this represented a drop of 16.5% from the previous quarter when revenue was US$643mn.
Wireless revenue in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela also dropped, to US$599mn, US$284mn and US$20mn from US$606mn, US$352mn and US$21mn, respectively.
The company’s LTE network in Mexico now covers 51mn people, more than halfway toward its goal of 100mn by the end of 2018.
AT&T’s operating loss for 1Q16 in Mexico was US$251mn, because of investment in operations, network infrastructure and subscriber acquisition. Unfavorable foreign exchange rates and weaker handset sales also impacted figures.
The company is continuing to deploy its 4G LTE network ahead of schedule and has deployed more than 200 new point of sale locations in the country.
Total DirecTV revenue from Latin America was US$1.1bn, down from US$1.2bn in the previous quarter.
“DIRECTV Latin America revenues reflect macroeconomic pressure, which is weakening local currencies, and challenging foreign exchange headwinds,” the firm said in a presentation to investor.
First-quarter subscriber net losses were 73,000, driven by declines in Brazil. Total DirecTV subscribers at the end of the quarter were 12.4mn.
“Our DirecTV Latin American operations saw sequential profitability trends in the quarter and we continue to expect self-sustaining cash flow for the year in that area,” said Mike Viola, senior vice president of AT&T investor relations, in a video presentation.
Other fish to fry: Mozilla looks beyond Firefox OS to zero rating, data privacy – Brazil, Regional
Though its Firefox OS project is now officially dead, internet browser creator Mozilla is still looking for ways it can challenge anything that could compromise neutrality, security or user privacy on the web and has honed its sights on the “threat” of zero rating.
Mozilla announced in December the end of Firefox OS for smartphones, which it positioned as an alternative to the Android and iOS mobile operating systems that it claimed dominate the market and oblige app developers to build applications to certain specifications.
Firefox OS gained greatest traction in Latin America and Mozilla managed to get major operators like Telefónica and América Móvil and device manufacturers like Alcatel and ZTE on board to make and launch Firefox OS devices. A local developer community also bloomed.
But it was too late to muscle in: Firefox OS was trying to compete in a mature market that even Microsoft had failed in.
“Firefox OS was hugely successful in that we demonstrated the flexibility of the web. It was crazy interesting but really challenging to compete in that space,” Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla’s chief legal and business officer, told BNamericas.
“We helped create great APIs and standards that are being utilized today. So it is not a loss, but a learning experience,” Dixon-Thayer said, speaking on the sidelines if the eMerge Americas conference, held in Miami last week.
APPLE VS THE US GOVERNMENT
But according to Dixon-Thayer, there are a series of important issues Mozilla is interested in helping to address.
One relates to the data privacy and encryption debate that gained global attention after Apple refused to assist the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in unlocking an iPhone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks last year.
In Brazil, a similar incident occurred in March when Facebook‘s LatAm VP, Diego Dzodan, was put under house arrest for 24 hours in São Paulo after the company failed to cooperate with a local police investigation that demanded data from the WhatsApp service owned by Facebook.
“I think it’s good that we’re having that discussion, that users are getting involved,” Dixon-Thayer said. “We as tech companies need to create very strong security, which is what we’re good at. When a government comes in and tells us we need a back door to security it just undermines the whole system.”
She said that policy should not be made as a knee-jerk reaction to a particular incident, no matter how horrific, and that it should be kept in perspective that security is designed to prevent the day-to-day cyber threats.
IS ZERO RATING A STEP BACKWARD?
Dixon-Thayer takes issue with the recent trend in zero-rating, or the practice of offering free access to certain online sites or apps for customers of a particular mobile network.
Key examples include Facebook’s Free Basics, Wikipedia Zero and Google Free Zone.
“Any entity choosing the content for the users is problematic. We need to come up with a different structure. Coming up with an alternative is not that easy, somebody has to pay for it. But we believe that Free Basics is just one solution of many,” she said.
Free Basics, originally called Internet.org, has been launched in a number of Latin American countries. It was blocked by Indian authorities in February when they said it infringed the principles of net neutrality.
In January, as part of its Marco Civil da Internet (civil internet bill), approved in April 2014, Brazil issued a decree stipulating that it would allow zero-rating agreements between carriers and OTTs provided they do not allow any type of traffic prioritization, or “fast-lanes.”
According to Dixon-Thayer, while it sounds like a good plan to get round obstacles such as affordability and infrastructure, zero-rating leap-frogs necessary steps such as education and the creation of local content that are necessary to stimulate a healthy internet community and contribute to the local economy.
“It’s more about the content on the web, you want people to contribute back to content creation and to do that you need to go more grass roots and local,” she said.
For that reason Mozilla launched this month the first browser in the local indigenous language in Paraguay, Guaraní.
Millicom ekes out revenue growth in LatAm – Regional
The company pulled in a little over US$1.3bn on account of a significant reduction in handset sales in Colombia, according to its 1Q16 financial results report.
Service revenue in LatAm was stronger, expanding 2.9% driven by continued growth in the region’s data usage. But it was affected by stiff competition in mobile pricing and delayed B2B contracts in Colombia.
Even so, Millicom intends to open a datacenter in Colombia to serve its potential B2B clients, according to a statement by CEO Mauricio Ramos.
Paraguay performed better for the company, displaying signs of revenue recovery and margin stability. This is attributed to the introduction of a broader service offering and the launch of LTE in the country.
The company lost 95,000 LatAm mobile subscribers in 1Q16. This, it said, was the result of a commercial focus on high-value customers in Honduras, Paraguay and Colombia.
Revenue from voice and SMS in LatAm declined 12.8% because of cuts in mobile termination rates in Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador and Bolivia, as well as the negative calendar effect of Easter taking place this quarter.
When factoring in all markets, the company saw an 8.5% year-on-year drop in revenues in 1Q16 to US$1.53bn.
Despite these results, the company expects to achieve mid to single-digit service revenue growth by the end of the year, mirroring the optimism expressed after a similar drop in revenues in 4Q15.
IN BRIEF: Guatemala planning spectrum auction – Guatemala
The Guatemalan government has revealed plans to auction mobile spectrum before the end of the year, local daily El Periódico reported.
To date, the country has only allocated 210MHz, which represents around 16.2% of what the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recommended it should have assigned by the end of last year, which is 1300MHz.
Guatemala’s head of the presidential commission on competitiveness and investment, Aciscio Valladares, said the decision to auction more spectrum was important for the development of the country.
Tablet usage in LatAm on the rise – Regional
Tablet usage in Latin America is estimated to grow 18.4% this year, bringing the total number of people in the region using the devices regularly to more than 100mn, according to research by eMarketer.
The study shows that tablet penetration in the region is currently 17.6%, with Brazil accounting for the lion’s share of users at 41.3mn. Mexico is in second place with 27.9mn and Argentina third with 7.7mn. The remaining tablet users reside in other LatAm nations.
By the end of 2020, 23% of the Latin American population will use a tablet each month, according to the study, either through individual ownership or by sharing one with friends and family.
Latin America is home to 10% of the world’s tablet users, a figure that is expected to remain steady through 2020.
The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CANTO and/or its members