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Colombia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The Colombian telecom market is favourable towards foreign investors and has a regulatory framework that favours competition. This report covers trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet, broadband, pay TV, and converging media. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures, and statistics;
  • Government policies and regulatory issues;
  • Historical information;
  • Telecom infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (DSL, cable modem, WiMAX, mobile broadband, etc);
  • Convergence and triple play solutions;
  • Pay TV market;
  • Scenario forecasts for the fixed-line, mobile, and broadband markets.


Colombia’s telecom market has started to experience intensifying competition since regulations have opened the long-distance sector and ushered network unbundling and wholesale services. A single Convergence Licence allows companies to offer fixed-line telephony, Internet access, broadband, and other value added services.  

The country’s telecom infrastructure is reasonably well developed in the main business centres, where service availability is relatively high for Latin America. Facilities are quite poor, however, in small urban centres and rural areas.  

Though lower than average for South America, Colombia’s fixed-line teledensity measures up favourably with the country’s economic indicators. Colombia has some 30 local telephone providers, partly private, and partly owned by the municipalities where they operate. Long-distance services were liberalised in mid-2007. To operate, long-distance providers need a Convergence Licence and a multicarrier access code.  

Colombia’s mobile penetration is considerably higher than would be expected given the country’s general economic indicators, largely thanks to the country’s mobile rates, which have been among the lowest in Latin America. América Móvil’s Comcel is the leading cellular operator, followed by Telefónica’s Movistar and Millicom-controlled Tigo. Avantel uses iDEN technology to serve the corporate market.

  The mobile market in Colombia was gravely affected by the economic recession. In the first half of 2009, the mobile subscriber base began to shrink for the first time. The downward trend was reversed in the second part of the year, but growth has been small, and the country may be facing early mobile market saturation. The large percentage of the population living below the poverty line cannot afford a mobile phone, and many of the wealthier citizens already have two mobile lines.

  Colombia’s broadband penetration is slightly below average for Latin America but higher than would be expected given the country’s economic indicators. Helped along by a regulatory framework that encourages competition and by government efforts to reduce the ‘digital divide’, broadband is expanding strongly. ADSL is the leading broadband technology in Colombia, but cable broadband continues to grow both in subscriber numbers and in geographical coverage thanks to the popularity of triple play solutions.

  The mobile broadband market in Colombia took off in 2009, but speeds are reportedly erratic, rarely reaching 1Mb/s even in the major cities and often dropping to less than 100Kb/s. According to consumer reviews, Tigo offers a faster service but has less coverage than Comcel or Movistar. In some of its operating areas, fixed-line company UNE-EPM has replaced its WiMAX services with mobile broadband on Tigo’s network, using a SIM card and modem branded UNE.

  Market highlights:

  • Two state-owned companies are up for sale: ETB, with about 26% of the country’s fixed lines in services, and Emcali, with about 7%.
  • Competition will receive a further boost from number portability, to be implemented by 2011.
  • More than 40 companies have received access codes for long-distance telephony, but new entrants have only managed to eke out a minuscule share of the domestic long-distance market. On the other hand, they have done much better in the international telephony sector, where competitive operators have already secured more than one third of the market share.
  • The Colombian government has launched a tender for the construction of a Ku-band satellite called Satélite Colombiano (Satcol).
  • The government is hoping to increase mobile competition by auctioning spectrum in the 2.5GHz band to new players.
  • IPTV, offered by UNE-EPM, is attracting a rapidly growing number of subscribers.
  •  
Colombia - key telecom parameters - 2008-2009
Sector 2008 2009 (e)
Internet    
Internet users (million) 17.1 22.0
Penetration rate 38.5% 48.9%
Annual change 41% 29%
Broadband    
Total subscribers (million) 1.90 2.37
Penetration rate 4.3% 5.3%
Annual change 58% 25%
Fixed-lines in service    
Total subscribers (million) 7.95 7.79
Penetration rate 17.9% 17.3%
Annual change 0.3% -2.0%
Mobile telephony subscribers  
  Total subscribers (million) 41.37 42.00
Penetration rate 93.1% 93.4%
Annual change 22% 2%
| (Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

  For those needing an objective and high-level strategic analysis on Colombia, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:
  • The Law on Information and Communications Technology (ICT Law) of July 2009, which has created a new regulatory framework for the whole telecom market in Colombia.
  • The outlook for WiMAX in Colombia - while the economic downturn had a negative impact on WiMAX investments, the arrival of mobile broadband has been the main cause for the shrinking WiMAX subscriber base.
  • The introduction of wholesale services and Local Loop Unbundling (LLU).
  • The success of triple play solutions in Colombia, which has helped to boost the cable TV sector and allowed Telefónica Telecom to gain a large share of the satellite TV market.
  Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Key Statistics
2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Country overview
2.1.1 General outlook
2.2 Overview of Colombia’s telecom market
2.3 Market analysis - 2010
3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 Background
3.2 Convergence Decree
3.3 ICT Law of 2009
3.4 Regulatory authorities
3.4.1 Ministry of ICT (Mintic)
3.4.2 CRC (previously CRT)
3.4.3 National Spectrum Agency (ANE)
3.4.4 CNTV
3.5 Privatisation
3.6 Telecom sector liberalisation in Colombia
3.7 Licensing
3.8 Foreign investment
3.9 Wholesale
3.10 Interconnect
3.11 Access
3.12 Number portability
3.13 Multicarrier system/carrier preselection
3.14 Per-minute billing
3.15 Rural telephony
3.16 Compartel
3.17 Consumer rights
3.18 Free-Trade Agreement (FTA)
4. Fixed Network Market
4.1 Overview of operators
4.1.1 Local operators
4.1.2 Long-distance operators
4.2 Telefónica Telecom (previously Colombia Telecom)
4.2.1 Telebucaramanga
4.3 ETB
4.4 UNE-EPM Telecomunicaciones
4.4.1 Edatel
4.4.2 EPM Bogotá
4.4.3 Telefónica de Pereira
4.5 Telmex Colombia
4.6 Emcali
5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network
5.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
5.2 International infrastructure
5.2.1 Submarine cable networks
5.2.2 Satellite networks
5.3 Infrastructure developments
5.3.1 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
5.3.2 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
6. Wholesale Market
6.1 Overview
7. Broadband Access Market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Internet/broadband statistics
7.1.2 Major ISPs and broadband players
7.1.3 Compartel
7.1.4 ICT access projects
7.2 Cable modems
7.3 Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
7.4 Wireless broadband
7.4.1 WiFi
7.4.2 WiMAX
7.5 Media convergence
7.5.1 Triple play models
7.5.2 Regulatory issues
8. Broadcasting
8.1 Market overview
8.2 Cable TV
8.2.1 Telmex Colombia
8.2.2 UNE-EPM
8.3 Satellite TV
8.4 Broadband TV (IPTV)
8.5 Digital terrestrial TV
9. Mobile Communications
9.1 Overview of Colombia’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile statistics
9.2 Regulatory issues
9.2.1 Spectrum regulations and auctions
9.2.2 Fixed-to-mobile call charges
9.3 Mobile technologies
9.3.1 Digital
9.3.2 Third generation mobile
9.3.3 Mobile data
9.4 Major mobile operators
9.4.1 Comcel (América Móvil)
9.4.2 Movistar (Telefónica)
9.4.3 Tigo (Colombia Móvil - Millicom)
9.4.4 Avantel
9.5 Mobile voice services
9.5.1 Prepaid
9.6 Mobile Messaging
9.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
9.7 Mobile broadband
9.8 Mobile satellite
10. Forecasts
10.1 Forecasts - fixed-line market 2010; 2015; 2020
10.1.1 Scenario 1 - higher fixed line growth
10.1.2 Scenario 2 - lower fixed line growth
10.2 Forecasts - fixed broadband market - 2010; 2015; 2020
10.2.1 Scenario 1 - higher broadband growth
10.2.2 Scenario 2 - lower broadband growth
10.3 Forecasts - mobile market - 2010; 2015; 2020
10.3.1 Scenario 1 - higher mobile market growth
10.3.2 Scenario 2 - lower mobile market growth
11. Glossary of Abbreviations
Table 1 - Country statistics Colombia - 2009
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2009
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2009
Table 4 - Broadband statistics - 2009
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - 2009
Table 6 - Regulatory authorities
Table 7 - Evolution of GDP in Colombia - 2000-2010
Table 8 - Telecommunications revenue - 2000-2009
Table 9 - Telecom revenue by segment - June 2009
Table 10 - Major operators’ market share of fixed lines in service - 2000-2009
Table 11 - DLD traffic: market share by operator - 1999-2009
Table 12 - ILD outgoing traffic: market share by operator - 1999-2009
Table 13 - Telefónica Telecom - lines in service - 2000-2009
Table 14 - ETB - lines in service - 2000-2009
Table 15 - UNE-EPM - lines in service - 2000-2009
Table 16 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1996-2010
Table 17 - Internet users and user penetration rate - 1997-2010
Table 18 - Broadband subscribers and penetration rates - 2002-2010
Table 19 - Broadband market share by technology - 2003-2009
Table 20 - Broadband market share by major operator - 2008-2009
Table 21 - Cable modem subscribers and penetration rates - 2003-2009
Table 22 - ADSL subscribers and penetration rates - 2003-2009
Table 23 - WiMAX subscribers and penetration rates - 2006-2009
Table 24 - Cable TV subscribers and penetration rates - 2000-2009
Table 25 - Major cable TV operators’ market share - 2004-2009
Table 26 - Satellite TV subscribers and penetration rates - 2000-2009
Table 27 - Satellite TV operators’ market share - 2004-2009
Table 28 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1997-2010
Table 29 - Mobile market share by operator - 2002-2009
Table 30 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Colombia - major operators - 2006-2008
Table 31 - Comcel subscribers - 2000-2009
Table 32 - Movistar subscribers - 2001-2009
Table 33 - Tigo subscribers - 2003-2009
Table 34 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio - 2005-2009
Table 35 - Forecast fixed lines - higher growth scenario - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 36 - Forecast fixed lines - lower growth scenario - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 37 - Forecast broadband subscribers - higher growth scenario - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 38 - Forecast broadband subscribers - lower growth scenario - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 39 - Forecast mobile subscribers - higher growth scenario - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 40 - Forecast mobile subscribers - lower growth scenario - 2010; 2015; 2020
Exhibit 1 - Telefónica Telecom at a glance
Exhibit 2 - Colombia Telecom - company history
Exhibit 3 - Colombia Telecom - privatisation
Exhibit 4 - Barranquilla Telecomunicaciones (liquidated)
Exhibit 5 - ETB at a glance
Exhibit 6 - UNE-EPM Telecomunicaciones at a glance
Exhibit 7 - UNE-EPM - telecom subsidiaries
Exhibit 8 - Orbitel - history
Exhibit 9 - Telmex Colombia at a glance
Exhibit 10 - Telmex Colombia - acquisition of AT&T
Exhibit 11 - Major submarine cable networks landing in Colombia
Exhibit 12 - Major ISPs, broadband players and services offered
Exhibit 13 - Coldecón (liquidated)
Exhibit 14 - Departmental WiMAX licences issued in December 2006
Exhibit 15 - Colombian regions for mobile licensing
Exhibit 16 - Comcel, Occel, and Celcaribe - company history
Exhibit 17 - TEM Colombia - company history
Exhibit 18 - Colombia Móvil - company history

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