|Spanish-speaking nations to have 60% of Caribbean LTE lines – Regional
Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean will account for 60% of the total LTE subscriptions in the region, according to consultancy 4G Americas, citing data from Ovum.
“Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba will together have 60% of total LTE lines in the Caribbean,” said José Otero, director for Latin America and the Caribbean at 4G Americas.
The three islands that form the Spanish-speaking Caribbean have vastly different landscapes in terms of LTE deployment. The Dominican Republic was one of the first countries in Latin America to deploy LTE, with Orange launching the service in July 2012. LTE is currently offered by three of the four operators that work on the island – Viva has yet to announce LTE services.
Puerto Rico has one of the highest penetrations of LTE networks in Latin America, mostly due to its close relationship with the US. Only Aeronet is expected to deploy LTE later this year, but the other five providers already have working networks.
Cuba, on the other hand, has no working LTE deployments, since its telecom industry is only just just taking off with 28.2% mobile penetration and many restrictions still in place on the part of the US. However, since Washington and Havana rekindled relationships last year, foreign investment is expected to start pouring in, with some service providers announcing their intention to start operations in the island.
The Caribbean as a whole will make up 2.4% of total LTE subscriptions in Latin America, which Ovum predicts will reach 260mn by 2020
British Virgin Islands 700MHz auction suspended – Caribbean, Virgin Islands
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has halted the 700MHz auction in the US Virgin Islands, after local operator CCT made a request to stop the process.
CCT made its request after the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) forbade the operator from taking part in the auction, without giving any reason, as reported by website Platinum news. The court acceded, agreeing that CCT had been unfairly denied permission to bid.
The operator accused TRC of being biased against the company, asking it to vacate 25% of the spectrum in use as a requirement to register for the spectrum award.
“CCT is grateful that the court has given us leave to apply for judicial review and we look forward to presenting our case regarding why our registration application for the 2015 Spectrum Award Process should be considered,” stated CCT CEO Averad Penn.
The 700MHz band remains largely unused and unauctioned in many countries in the Caribbean, which is slowing telecom development in the region.
“That band [700MHz] is very critical for mobile operators, it has very good propagation and wide coverage… I believe, at the Canto conference, Caribbean governments started to see its critical nature,” said Julian Wilkins, head of public policy for pan-Caribbean telco Digicel, during the latest Canto association conference.
Cuban telecom development dependent on US changing laws – Cuba
The development of Cuba’s telecom sector depends just as much on local legislation update as it does on the US changing its legislation to allow companies to invest on the island, according to consultancy 4G Americas.
“The entry of operators needs to be allowed both by Havana and Washington,” said José Otero, director for Latin America and the Caribbean, during 4G Americas’ webinar on mobile connectivity in the Caribbean.
Otero added that while Washington has some sway, Havana has the last word on who is allowed to invest in Cuba and how it is done.
However, Otero said he was certain that President Raúl Castro’s government would not block investment. “I doubt that if businesses offer sizeable investments, which can help development of the country, Havana wouldn’t say no,” he said.
However, US legislation also needs to change regarding Cuba to allow invest in the country. Washington currently penalizes not just US companies, but also international firms that enter into business agreements with Havana.
“If there are no changes in US legislation regarding Cuba, it will be hard to see any great investments any time soon,” Otero said.
Cuba has some of the biggest investment potential in telecommunications in the whole of Latin America, with just 28.2% mobile penetration, according to 4G Americas.
Since the rekindling of relations between the US and Cuba last year, changes have been afoot on the island in terms of the telecom sector and investment. Several US companies announced the beginning of operations in Cuba, from streaming service Netflix to accommodation website AirBnB.
US mobile operator Verizon also announced the start of roaming services on the island in September, becoming the first US provider to do so.
IN BRIEF: C&W Networks inks 20-year agreement for dark fiber services – Caribbean
C&W Networks, the infrastructure subsidiary of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), has signed a 20-year contract with US-based Allied Fiber to use its dark fiber superstructure.
C&W Networks will use colocation space and fiber from Allied Fiber to expand its route between Miami and Jacksonville in Florida through local fiber spots. These will allow C&W Networks to connect its ARCOS-1, CFX and PCCS submarine cables and landing stations to the Allied Fiber system.
The company will add the fiber to its 48,000-km subsea multi-ring fiber-optic network, which crosses the Caribbean and reaches 42 countries in the region, Central America and the Andean area.
World Bank chief offers LatAm downturn battle strategy – Regional
Sputtering Latin America needs to boost productivity in the face of “headwinds” that include slumping commodity prices, capital flight and imminent interest rate hikes, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said.
The region needs to implement reforms to take advantage of global export markets through trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed this week, Kim told reporters on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank annual meeting in Lima.
The IMF has forecast the regional economy will shrink 0.3% this year before expanding 0.8% in 2016.
Mexico, Chile and Peru, which have also signed free trade agreements with the US, Canada, the EU and China in recent years, are members of the 12-nation TPP group.
“We are in the midst of a period of slow global growth. After a decade of strong growth and tremendous social progress, Latin America, like other regions, is facing these headwinds,” Kim said. “Countries in Latin America need to increase productivity, access to quality education, and ensure that the state is more efficient in providing social services. The TPP’s potential influence on the world economy could help boost the region’s growth.”
Capital flight from emerging markets has hit a 27-year high, Kim said. The World Bank, meanwhile, has enough funding to lend countries at current rates for the next three years, but will have to “dramatically” slash lending to maintain its ‘AAA’ credit rating in terms of equity-to-loan ratios, he said.
“I’m worried,” Kim said. “Commodity prices continue to be low and there’s nothing on the horizon that suggests that they are going to go back up. Borrowing costs are going to be impacted when the fed funds rate is raised.”
The bank is also working with regions including Latin America to jump-start “stalled” public-private partnership infrastructure ventures, known as PPPs, which can take pressure off governments who face spending limitations, Kim said.
Peru alone has awarded US$18bn in PPPs since 2011, but excessive bureaucracy and social conflicts have delayed billions of dollars in investment, according to infrastructure industry group Afin.
“PPPs are difficult everywhere in the world and we know that many have failed in many different countries,” Kim said. “Although they are a great idea, it turns out they are really quite complicated to actually make work.”
The World Bank is also pushing the COP21 Paris climate change conference in December to set CO2 emissions reduction targets even as a drive to gather US$100bn/y in climate financing for developing nations gets underway, Kim said.
Tax reforms in developing nations in areas such as Latin America could also boost tax collection to the equivalent of 2-4 percentage points of GDP, he said. Countries also need to crack down on illicit capital outflows through theft and tax evasion, he added.
Latin America will also benefit this year from the depreciation of local currencies against the US dollar as local exporters’ products become more competitive, IMF director Christine Lagarde said in one of the sessions.
Central American nations are also benefiting from lower crude oil prices this year, generating as much as US$3.5bn in savings, said Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The IDB is promoting a natural gas pipeline to Central America from Mexico, where gas prices are the lowest in North America, Moreno told reporters.
“We’re at a good moment with low prices for food, oil and minerals, which is something Central America should take advantage of,” Moreno said.