Chile is the most mature telecom market in Latin America and the region’s pioneer when it comes to new technologies. In fact, Chile was the first country in Latin America to see services such as mobile WiMAX, IPTV, wireless TVoIP, triple play, EDGE, and mobile voice-to-text, among others. It was the second country in the region, after Puerto Rico, to have 3G mobile services. In December 2009, Chile became the first country in Latin America and the fifth in the world (after Sweden, Norway, Japan, and the USA) to test LTE technology.
Chile is viewed as a role model by the international business community for its competitive free market approach. In the Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, Chile was ranked thirtieth in the world and first in Latin America, scoring well thanks to a highly developed infrastructure, transparent institutions, and well-functioning goods and financial markets, but doing poorly in terms of its education system.
The country is the regional leader in terms of Internet and broadband penetration. It used to boast the region’s highest penetration rates for mobile telephony, but has been overtaken by several other countries. In terms of fixed-line teledensity, it lags behind six other Latin American nations.
Chile’s success in the broadband market can be attributed to the country’s relatively high GDP, its receptivity towards new technologies, and a setup that has succeeded in creating some competition between broadband providers. Nevertheless, Chile’s broadband map shows considerable disparities between regions, ranging from 13.5% broadband penetration per capita in Region II, an important industrial hub, to 4.5% in Region VII, a predominantly rural area.
As elsewhere in the region, cell phones are far more popular than fixed lines in Chile. But mobile growth had already slowed before the onset of the global financial crunch, indicating that the country may be facing early mobile market saturation. In fact, while Chile’s GDP per capita is high compared with the rest of the region, the steep income disparity leaves a sizeable section of the population unable to afford a mobile handset. However, more and more people own two SIM cards: one for their cell phone, and one for mobile broadband.
- Differently from other Latin American countries, Chile’s Telecom Development Fund is financed from the national budget rather than through levies on telecom operators. It offers one-off subsidies allocated through competitive tenders to private companies willing to invest in special projects.
- Following the acquisition of Compañía Nacional de Telefonos Telefónica del Sur (also known as CNT or Telsur) in January 2010, the locally owned GTD Group increased its fixed-line market share from 4.2% to 10.2%.
- Thanks to the popularity of triple play packages in Chile, VTR’s cable modem service has been making a comeback in terms of market share.
- Chile has adopted the Japanese standard ISDB-T/MPEG-4 for digital terrestrial TV services, with a ten-year period for analogue TV to be completely replaced by digital TV.
- Chile’s regulator Subtel expects to hold an LTE/4G auction in 2010 and operators hope to launch commercial LTE services in Chile by 2012.
Chile - key telecom parameters - 2008-2009
Sector | 2008 | 2009 (e) |
Internet | | |
Internet users (million) | 7.97 | 9 |
Penetration rate | 47.3% | 52.9% |
Annual growth | 8% | 13% |
Broadband | | |
Total subscribers (million) | 1.43 | 1.69 |
Penetration rate | 8.5% | 9.9% |
Annual growth | 9% | 19% |
Fixed-lines in service | | |
Total subscribers (million) | 3.53 | 3.60 |
Penetration rate | 20.9% | 21.2% |
Annual growth | 1.9% | 2.1% |
Mobile telephony subscribers | | |
Total subscribers (million) | 14.80 | 15.74 |
Penetration rate | 87.8% | 92.5% |
Annual growth | 6% | 6% |
(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)
For those needing an objective and high-level strategic analysis on Chile, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:
- Regulatory framework and planned changes to the country’s telecom laws;
- Mobile market outlook and developments, including spectrum awards;
- Broadband market trends and players;
- The remarkable uptake of 3G and mobile broadband;
- The success of convergence and triple play solutions in Chile;
- How different scenarios are likely to affect the fixed-line, mobile, and broadband markets in the ten years to 2020.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.