CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas 12/12/14

CANTO Weekly Newsletter – BNamericas 12/12/14

Liberty to lead Puerto Rico’s cable market with Choice buy – Puerto Rico
Roundup: Digicel, Costa Rica’s mobile coverage, Brazil’s smartphone sales – Regional
Digicel to reconsider investment plans in Caribbean after Columbus-CWC deal – Caribbean
Roundup: Digicel, Tigo Honduras, Guatemala’s unused lines – Regional
Latin America to continue 4G, HSPA uptake – Regional

Liberty to lead Puerto Rico’s cable market with Choice buy – Puerto Rico

With the acquisition of Puerto Rico’s second largest cable and broadband services provider Choice Cable TV, Liberty Global will reach 80% of homes on the island.
Together with investment funds affiliated with Searchlight Capital Partners, Liberty has agreed to acquire 100% of Choice for US$273mn, according to a statement.
Choice will be merged with Liberty’s operations in Puerto Rico, and the combined business – 60% owned by Liberty Global and 40% by Searchlight – will generate over US$380mn in annual revenue, according to Liberty.
“The Choice transaction will build upon our 2012 acquisition of OneLink and will complete cable consolidation on the island of Puerto Rico,” Liberty Global’s CEO Mike Fries said.
As of August 31 this year, Choice’s network passed approximately 345,000 homes and served approximately 154,000 revenue generating units, the statement said.

Roundup: Digicel, Costa Rica’s mobile coverage, Brazil’s smartphone sales – Regional

Digicel Group invested US$5mn in microinsurance provider Bima to deliver affordable insurance to the Caribbean and Asia Pacific regions, Bima announced in a press release.
Insurance penetration in these areas currently stands at less than 7% of GDP, Bima said. The company will bring its mobile-delivered insurance to these regions, and customers will be able to pay for insurance via their phones.
The partnership has launched regional operations in Haiti and Papua New Guinea.
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The barriers imposed by several districts in Costa Rica made operators miss their deadlines in the cellphone coverage process established by regulator Sutel in 2008.
La Nación reported that Sutel’s plan had three stages, which established five years for total deployment of the network. However, differences in development and construction of infrastructure in various provinces prevented operators from sticking to the schedule.
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Smartphone sales saved the telecommunications market in Brazil in 2014, Convergencia Digital reported.
Citing numbers from electronics industry association Abinee, infrastructure investment did not live up to the expectations, but smartphone sales have grown 44% compared to 2013. Over 52mn smartphones were sold this year.
The telecoms industry is predicted to have grown 9% compared to last year, with device sales rising 27% (both smartphones and traditional phones, of which sales dropped 45%) and infrastructure investment falling 5%.

Digicel to reconsider investment plans in Caribbean after Columbus-CWC deal – Caribbean

Caribbean mobile company Digicel will re-examine its investment plans in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean in light of the proposed Columbus International-Cable and Wireless Communicaitons (CWC) merger, the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner reported.
The Irish telco maintains that the acquisition could lead to a monopoly in the sector. “We are prepared to invest in the region but that has to be in the knowledge that there is going to be a level playing field,” Digicel CEO Colm Delves said.
“We do not want to be in a position that the monopoly uses their dominant position to inhibit and restrict growth and competition,” he added.
Digicel has opposed the US$1.85bn CWC-Columbus merger since it was announced in November.
The acquisition is pending review by regional regulators. Both Trinidad-based CTU and St Lucia-based Ectel have announced investigations into the operation.

Roundup: Digicel, Tigo Honduras, Guatemala’s unused lines – Regional

Digicel Group has named Carlos Cáceres as the new CEO of Digicel Haiti.
Cáceres was sales manager for Central America and the Caribbean. Previously he worked at Millicom’s Paraguay, Senegal and Ghana offices.
Maarten Boute, who had held the post for the past eight months, will become chairman of Digicel Haiti.
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Tigo Honduras has launched its 4G LTE network, La Prensa reported.
The service will be initially available in the cities of Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. Users will need an AWS smartphone and a new LTE chip.
The 2G and 3G networks will still be working.
Tigo has already launched the LTE network in Guatemala and Bolivia.
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Guatemalan operators have disconnected 6mn inactive lines in order to avoid a new tax, Tecno América Economía reported.
The new tax, which will charge operators US$0.64 per line, will come into force on January 1. Claro, Movistar and Tigo removed lines that were not in use or unregistered, and filed a complaint about the new tax, arguing that it was approved without public consultation.
The government expects to raise US$194mn from the levy.

Latin America to continue 4G, HSPA uptake – Regional

Trade organization 4G Americas said that LTE and HSPA networks now account for 35% of Latin America’s 717mn mobile broadband connections.
A total of 51 commercial LTE networks are currently operational in Latin America and the Caribbean, compared to 31 last year, which regional director José Otero attributed to increasing spectrum allocation.
“We expect mobile broadband adoption to accelerate during 2015 as subscribers continue migrating towards HSPA and LTE networks,” Otero said in a 4G Americas release.
“Increased geographic coverage of these technologies and lower cost devices will continue to arrive in the region.”
LTE connections in Latin America totaled 6.2mn at end-September, representing a 500% increase over the same time last year.
Latin America added 77mn HSPA and HSPA+ connections year-over-year, with a total of 245mn connections recorded across 77 commercial networks, 4G Americas said.
4G Americas reported 4.8mn LTE connections at end-June, with Brazil being the region’s most saturated market.

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