Digicel completes acquisition of Caribbean submarine fiber network – Jamaica
Central American countries lead in m-banking – Regional
Nextel Brazil, Mexico, Argentina ‘unaffected’ by NII bankruptcy – Regional
Instant messaging for LatAm’s non-credit users goes viral – Regional
Hondutel to suspend 700 employees – Honduras
Digicel completes acquisition of Caribbean submarine fiber network – Jamaica

Mobile phone operator Digicel has received government and regulatory approval to acquire the Caribbean submarine fiber network from Guadeloupe-based Loret Group and Caribbean Fibre Holdings, the company said in a statement.
The 3,100km fiber optic cable network will connect 12 countries, from Trinidad and Tobago to Puerto Rico, and on to the US.
The approval is the final step in a process that started in December when Digicel reached an agreement with Loret Group to acquire the network. The company did not make public the financial terms, although The Jamaica Gleaner put the value of the transaction at around US$100mn.
The deal is part of Digicel’s plan to move forward from a cell provider to a full-blown telecom company, following acquisitions of cable TV and broadband providers in the region, including Telstra Cable in Jamaica.
Central American countries lead in m-banking – Regional

Central American countries is where the use of mobile devices for banking transactions – m-banking – is most advanced in Latin America, shows a survey from Latin American banks federation Felaban.
According to the survey of internet banking users, 59% of Central Americans – which for the purposes of the study meant Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Panama – performed m-banking operations in 2014, up from 52% in 2013. The study was commissioned by Felaban to fraud-prevention company Easy Solutions to assess Latin America’s awareness of electronic fraud.
Central America is followed by Mexico, with 55% of m-banking adoption (up from 47% in 2013). The Southern Cone region (Chile and Argentina) reached 52%, up from 44%, while the Andean nations (Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador) hit 49%, up from 44%.
Brazil was at the bottom of the list among the five groups surveyed, with a 36% m-banking rate, compared to 31% in the previous survey. It was also where year-over-year growth was the weakest.
On the other hand, Brazil is the only region where the totality of those surveyed used their banks’ apps, instead of browers, for m-banking,
Overall, 50% of Latin Americans made use of m-banking this year in the countries surveyed, up 6% year-over-year.
PCs and laptops remain by far the most popular source for transactions and payments among internet banking users in the region, with 74% of preferences. Mobile devices were the preferred choice for 14% of those surveyed, while 6% said agencies or bank branches.
The study also found that 75% of m-banking users already detected some sort of threat on their devices, with 78% declaring to be “very concerned” with malicious software in their handsets or tablets.
The study also shows that internet banking users now have greater awareness of their role in security, with 41% seeing themselves as primarily responsible for security – up from 30% last year.
Nextel Brazil, Mexico, Argentina ‘unaffected’ by NII bankruptcy – Regional

As expected by the market, struggling US telco NII Holdings, which operates the Nextel mobile telephony brand in Latin America, filed for chapter 11 proceedings in a bankruptcy court in New York.
“The company has been in discussions with its major stakeholders over the last several months and is optimistic that those discussions will lead to a debt restructuring plan that will be reflected in a plan of reorganization that will be submitted in the proceedings in the near future,” NII Holdings said on its website.
“The company’s operating subsidiaries in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are not part of the US bankruptcy proceedings and will continue to operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis.”
The operator already sold Nextel Chile to an international consortium of Argentine, UK and US investors.
NII posted a net loss of US$629mn in Q2 compared to a loss of US$385mn a year ago.
The company did not pay approximately US$119mn in interest due on August 15 on senior notes issued by its subsidiaries NII Capital and NII International Telecom.
These notes had a 30-day grace period under which they still could have been paid, but they expired on Monday without payment.
In a statement, Nextel Brasil, the company’s largest subsidiary, stressed that the decision of NII Holdings “to initiate a formal process in the United States to restructure its debt will not affect routine business operations of Nextel Brazil or the quality and reliability of its services to customers in the country”.
Instant messaging for LatAm’s non-credit users goes viral – Regional

The growth in Latin America of Zurich-based mobile solutions firm Myriad Group’s free instant messaging service, msngr, is a result of addressing market needs that have previously gone unmet, according to Pompilio Roselli, Myriad’s director for Latin America.
The app, currently available in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico, is designed to meet the requirements of the majority of the region’s mobile users – those who have prepaid feature phones and who often lack the credit or the data connectivity to make use of traditional messaging services.
“At end-2013, we had 37mn [users]. At end-June, 67mn – nearly double. We expect to grow even more than that by year-end,” Roselli told BNamericas. “This is viral growth.” In Mexico alone, msngr boasts nearly 30mn users.
Msngr was designed and created for Latin America, with a particular focus on the so-called millennium users, youth aged 15-25.
“What’s relevant here is that in Latin America, 50% of the time, the people don’t have credit on their mobile phones. They have to wait to get their salary paid or maybe it’s the son who’s waiting for his father to top up the credit at the beginning of the month – after 15-20 days their credit is out and they have to use Wi-Fi if they want to send messages,” Roselli said. “In our partnership, that guy can be on the bus, in the park and can access the network for free messaging.”
The service is free of charge, without the need for Wi-Fi connectivity, for all América Móvil (Claro) users. Myriad has also signed partnerships with some branches of Telefónica (Movistar) but some type of data service is needed. Further partnerships are forthcoming, Roselli said.
“Another important thing to consider is that in Latin America, 70% of the mobile phones aren’t smartphones. And our messenger service can be used on the feature phone, via a WAP application,” he added. “Our studies show that the user who begins to use WAP continues to use the msngr service when he upgrades to a smartphone because he has all his contacts there and is used to using the service.”
The icing on the cake is the issue of chat groups, according to the executive. In other messaging services, “if I include you in my group but you want to add a friend, you have to ask me to include him. Not so in msngr – it’s much easier. You just click on the list of contacts and add your friend.”
Msnger “shows Myriad’s DNA in always looking to work with the operators. We sign partnerships with them and we do their instant messenger service,” Roselli said, adding that previously Myriad had provided the platforms for Telcel Messenger, Movistar Messenger, Personal Messenger and Claro Messenger.
Hondutel to suspend 700 employees – Honduras

Honduras’ state telecom operator Hondutel has suspended 700 employees for four months under the second stage of its strategic plan to inject capital into the company via an early retirement program, local daily La Tribuna reported.
CEO Jesús Mejía said the suspensions will affect 700 low-productivity workers who rejected early retirement, which was offered to employees in order to reduce costs.
Mejía stressed that the measure was specifically for financial reasons, and will be applied in regions of the country that have yielded no revenue.
Martín Sánchez, representative of the telecom workers’ union Sitratelh, said the measure is unviable, and recommended Hondutel apply for a loan and invest in the company.
Hondutel reported in August that it needed US$600mn in investment to survive.
The suspensions are still dependent on the approval of the labor ministry.

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