Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cuba to begin analog blackout in Q2 – Cuba

Qualcomm posts loss on tax charge – Regional

Latin America propels AT&T in Q4 – Regional

After launch problems, satellites to serve LatAm back on track – Brazil, Regional

Nicaragua telecoms chamber seeks to eliminate tax on mobiles – Nicaragua


Cuba to begin analog blackout in Q2 – Cuba

Cuba is preparing to take the next step in its transition to digital terrestrial television (DTT), which will involve a partial analogue blackout.

According to Grisel Reyes, president of IT cluster Geic, Cuba is working on fostering the conditions needed to begin the partial blackout in the second quarter of this year.

In the partial blackout, a single TV channel’s analogue signal will gradually go offline across different territories depending on equipment availability.

At the end of last year the island had a DTT coverage of 60%, 115 installed transmitters, and almost 2mn receivers in the market, reported local dailies.

In addition, there are some 30,000 set-top boxes and 8,000 hybrid television sets in the market. While coaxial cable and antennas are also available, these are still scarce goods given the demand.

Some of the challenges in Cuba’s digital switchover are overcoming physical limitations in transmission centers, freeing up spectrum, and addressing the country’s scarcity of equipment for the consumer market. The switchover is expected to be completed in 2023.


Qualcomm posts loss on tax charge – Regional

US chipmaker and semiconductor company Qualcomm reported US$5.95bn losses in its fiscal first quarter, ended December 24, due to a non-recurrent charge in light of new US tax laws.

In the same period last year, the company had posted a net profit of US$682mn.

Net revenues, in turn, grew 1.2% to US$6.07bn.

The FQ1 results were also hit by a US$1.2bn charge regarding a fine imposed by the European Commission, for which the company aims to provide “a financial guarantee to satisfy the obligation.”

According to Qualcomm, the first quarter of fiscal 2018 and fourth quarter of fiscal 2017 licensing results were impacted by a continued licensing dispute with Apple and its contract manufacturers. Chipset revenues, however, grew 13% year-over-year to US$4.65bn.

Qualcomm’s results came as its subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies announced a multi-year agreement with Samsung covering various technology areas and across a range of mobile devices, targeting particularly the transition to 5G.

To see the company’s detailed results, click here.


Latin America propels AT&T in Q4 – Regional

Latin American business in general and operations in Mexico in particular were the main drivers for AT&T in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The US telecom group operates in Latin America through the DirecTV satellite pay-TV brand (in Brazil, Sky). In Mexico, the group also provides wireless and mobile services.

“Our International business also turned in another strong quarter. Revenues were up 16% as both DirecTV, Latin America, and Mexico showed strong revenue and subscriber gains. Ebitda also was up significantly, thanks to strength in Latin America and improvement in Mexico,” CFO John Stephens said in an earnings call with analysts and investors.

AT&T posted global consolidated revenues of US$41.7bn in Q4, compared to US$41.8bn in the year-ago period. The company attributed the slight decrease to declines in legacy wireline services, wireless service revenues and video in the US, which were offset by growth in wireless equipment and international operations.

Net income increased to US$19bn from US$2.4bn the year before.

According to Stephens, AT&T added 3mn customers in Mexico in 2017, including 1.3mn in the fourth quarter alone. As a result, its total subscriber base in the country reached 15mn.

“In 2018, we’re also going to be focused further on Mexico. Our business there is going to continue to scale. We continue to move towards profitability. We have great momentum in the market, nearly doubling our subscriber base in the last two-plus years and our LTE build in Mexico is almost complete,” he told the call.

Meanwhile, DirecTV Latin American operations added 139,000 customers, leveraging on prepaid offers, according to Stephens.

For 2018, AT&T expects improvements in Mexico and continued a strong performance in Latin America in general.

Challenges include pressure from legacy revenues such as wireline voice and the transition to unlimited voice.

On the regulatory side, the company expects to be able to present its case in court regarding the blocked merger with Time Warner and effectively close the deal.

AT&T’s results can be seen here.


After launch problems, satellites to serve LatAm back on track – Brazil, Regional

After launch problems with an Arianespace rocket, satellite companies SES and Yahsat announced that their respective spacecrafts, SES-14 and AI Yah 3, established communications with their control centers and are on track to orbit.

A few seconds after the Ariane 5 rocket lift-off on Thursday, a temporary telemetry loss occurred at the second tracking station in Natal, Brazil.

Although communications have been reestablished, both missions will experience delays.

“Following the anomaly that occurred during the launch of an Ariane 5 rocket last night, SES announces that it has successfully established a telemetry and telecommand connection to its SES-14 spacecraft and is setting up a new orbit raising plan now,” SES said.

The company said that SES-14 will reach its geostationary orbit four weeks later than planned, but all subsystems on board are nominal and the satellite is expected to meet the designed life time.

SES-14, built by Airbus Defense and Space, will serve Latin America, the Caribbean, North America and the North Atlantic region with C- and Ku-band wide beam coverage and Ku-band high throughput spot beam coverage. It will be positioned at 47.5 degrees West.

In September, Jurandir Pitsch, Latin American VP SES, told BNamericas that the satellite is expected to make at least eight 4K channels available to cable and DTH pay TV operators, adding that the whole 4K ecosystem in the region is still underdeveloped and needs a boost.

Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates’ YahSat aims to use its third communications satellite, the Al Yah 3, to launch YahClick, a consumer internet service using Ka-band, for the Brazilian market.

“A few seconds after ignition of the upper stage, the second tracking station located in Natal, Brazil, did not acquire the launcher telemetry. This lack of telemetry lasted throughout the rest of powered flight. Subsequently, both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit. SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are communicating with their respective control centers. Both missions are continuing,” Yahsat reported, replicating Arianespace’s mission update.


Nicaragua telecoms chamber seeks to eliminate tax on mobiles – Nicaragua

Nicaraguan telecoms association Canitel has asked the government to eliminate the selective excise tax known as ISC imposed on mobile phones.

Canitel’s president Hjalmar Ayestas said the association has been lobbying to end the tax for two years as it has a negative impact on equipment providers and end customers, reported newspaper La Prensa.

According to Ayestas, the price of mobile phones is particularly high in Nicaragua because of the 20% ISC, on top of value-added tax of 15%.

Despite the high costs of mobile phones, Nicaragua had a mobile penetration rate of 122% in 2016.

Last year the country reported 4.8mn mobile lines, of which 1.2mn had mobile internet connections.

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