|Eastern Caribbean sees telecoms investment grow 29% – Regional
Investment in the telecommunications sector in the Eastern Caribbean member states (Ectel) grew 29% to US$157mn in the year ending March 2015.
Ectel, which oversees the local telecoms regulators (NTRCs) of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, said the investment was driven mainly by 4G/HSPA+ mobile broadband deployments.
This is the second year of double-digit growth in investment in the area following 35% growth in the previous period.
Fixed broadband subscription growth also accelerated, rising 11% to 97,000 for a fixed broadband penetration rate of 19.2%, up from 17.2% from the previous period.
The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 400% to 205,000.
Ectel is currently evaluating the introduction of a telecommunications bill with proposed changes to the regulation regarding net neutrality and universal services.
Key takeaways: Canto Caribbean telecoms conference – Caribbean
The signing of a code of practice to safeguard the open internet and establishment of a regulatory working group to address controversial issues such as net neutrality were the main takeaways from the 32nd Canto Caribbean telecoms conference, which took place the first week of August in Puerto Rico.
Ten country managers and CEOs representing five different telecoms operators signed the code of practice, which is intended to balance the needs and freedoms of end users and content providers, while requiring operators to run their networks and develop new services and business models.
The move could be seen as a kind of “Munich Agreement” of the internet at a time when net neutrality lobbyists, including some regulators, are pushing to introduce new laws, since it may be something of a compromise and less effective than it sounds.
The signatories included Dennis O’Brien, owner of operator Digicel and John Reid, CEO of Cable & Wireless Communications, the Caribbean’s two largest telecoms operators.
Reid signed the agreement for all 15 Caribbean and Central American markets in which CWC is present, while Digicel signed for its operations in St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada. Other signatories were Telem Group St Maarten, GT&T Guyana and Innovative US Virgin Islands.
Julian Wilkins, chairman of telecoms association Canto, told BNamericas that the move sent out an important message of compromise to the 40 regulators from 16 countries, 12 ICT ministers and 43 operators in attendance.
A working group consisting of ICT ministers, Canto and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) was also set to address regulatory issues, including number portability, internet exchange points (IXPs), abolition or reduction of roaming charges, infrastructure sharing and net neutrality.
The latter issue is currently a point of debate in the Caribbean due to a communications bill being proposed by The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (Ectel), which oversees the individual regulators (NTRCs) in Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis.
The bill includes the proposal to implement net neutrality regulation, which would require network operators to treat all internet traffic the same.
Wilkins has urged caution on introducing laws on this issue, which is still being hotly debated around the world, despite the US introducing net neutrality legislation in June last year.
Ectel chairman Vincent Byron defended the bill during the conference, saying it had undergone lengthy public consultation, according to local press.
“While we consider all the definitions and biases in the debate on net neutrality rules, the people of our region must enjoy full access to the internet like all other citizens of the world,” Byron said.
He added that he supported the call from telecommunications ministers from Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to expand broadband services at affordable prices to the Caribbean, where broadband prices vary greatly.
Byron said that Ectel’s proposed electronic communications bill seeks to reduce roaming rates, introduce number portability and regulate over-the-top services and net neutrality.
Mixed Q2 for new Liberty Global LatAm operations – Regional
Latin America’s new regional telecommunications powerhouse Liberty Global saw a boost in its regional revenues in the second quarter, mainly on the back of recent acquisitions, with a positive performance in Chile, but a mixed bag in the Caribbean.
Liberty Global finalized the US$7.4bn acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) on May 16, expanding its footprint of telecommunications and IT business services across the whole Caribbean and adding a major undersea cable infrastructure network stretching into South America.
The combined new regional operation added to Liberty’s existing operations of Choice Puerto Rico and VTR Chile, all of which fall under the LiLAC Group.
So how did the company fair in its first quarterly earnings report as a consolidated company?
Overall, LiLAC revenue increased 94% year-on-year to US$603mn in the quarter. CWC contributed US$286mn from the period May 16-June 30.
The LiLAC Group provided a total of 5.4mn subscription services to 3mn unique fixed-line customers consisting of 1.7mn video, 2mn broadband and 1.7mn telephony subscribers.
Chile’s VTR stood out in the quarter with 4.5% rebased growth driven by higher cable-based Arpu and services as well as growth in the company’s MVNO mobile service.
VTR recorded a 30% year-on-year increase (+30,000 subscribers) in broadband service additions, boosted by its Vive Más triple play package, which includes broadband download speeds at 100mbps.
The company also added 7,000 mobile subscribers. Since a new competitor entered Chile in July last year, VTR has been competing more aggressively, introducing 4G.
CWC experienced a 1% revenue contraction for the period from May 16-June 30 as growth in the key Jamaica and Panama markets was offset by declines in Barbados, the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago due to increased competition and the weak macroeconomic environment.
CWC suffered most on the mobile front, losing 1,000 subscribers organically as an additional 3,000 new mobile subscribers in Jamaica, one of the Caribbean’s largest markets, were offset by a total decline of 5,000 subscribers, including 2,000 in Barbados.
The company fared better in broadband and video, which accounted for most of the 7,000 new service additions, 4,000 of which were in Panama.
Under new ownership, CWC will see a cash injection to boost infrastructure rollout. Speaking to journalists in May following the acquisition, Liberty Global’s CEO Mike Fries said the company would focus on the “untapped” broadband opportunities in the region, as well as leveraging TV and looking at the potential of offering OTT services.
One Caribbean Media buys Green Dot controlling stake – Trinidad & Tobago
One Caribbean Media (OCM) has agreed to buy a 51% stake in Trinidad & Tobago digital cable TV and broadband internet services provider Green Dot Limited, OCM said in a statement.
Green Dot has operated in Trinidad for over 10 years and recently expanded to Suriname and Grenada.
OCM emphasized that key management of Green Dot would be retained. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.
OCM is publically traded on the stock exchanges of Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.
As at December 2015 Trinidad and Tobago has eight (8) Operational Concessionaires, providing TV via Cable. Eight (8) Concessionaires, including Green Dot, also provide fixed Internet services in the country, with almost 100% of these Fixed Internet subscriptions being broadband. (Source – TATT Annual Market Report 2015).
Tigo turns to solar power in Central America – El Salvador, Honduras
Millicom, the parent company of telco Tigo, reached a deal with Colombian energy efficiency specialist Serviparamo to implement photovoltaic solar solutions for some Tigo antennas not connected to the power grid in Honduras and El Salvador.
“Las telecomunicaciones son uno de los sectores que más busca la energía solar porque tienen muchas antenas que no están conectadas a ningún tipo de red”, dijo la gerente general de Servipáramo, Yohanna Alzamora. “Lo que hacen es mantenerse con diésel, un combustible muy costoso y contaminante”, agregó. – See more at: http://www.telesemana.com/blog/2016/08/03/millicom-usara-energia-solar-para-abastecer-antenas-de-tigo-en-el-salvador-y-honduras/#sthash.0gNF5HZA.dpuf
“Telcommunications is one of the sectors that seeks solar energy the most because there are lots of antennas that are not connected to any grid,” Yolanda Alzamora, commercial manager at Serviparamo, was quoted as saying by Honduran daily El Heraldo. She explained that most antennas tend to run on diesel, an expensive and polluting fuel.
Serviparamo is also discussing opportunities with another undisclosed operator in Central America, as well as companies in Colombia, according to the daily.
Millicom agreed to invest US$100mn in its Tigo Honduras subsidiary this year, with a significant portion planned to go to the expansion of fixed networks.