Guatemala tax on mobile lines leads to six million dormant cards removed
Growth in Guatemala's telecom sector has been affected by the continuing global economic downturn, which has reduced spending power in both the residential and corporate markets. The fixed-line market shrank for the first time in 2009, a trend which has been maintained since. The broadband market has continued to grow but at a slower rate while the mobile telephony market has shown remarkably strong growth in recent years, largely stimulated by consumers finding an alternative to fixed-line communications. Indeed, poor infrastructure has led to the country having one of the lowest fixed-line teledensities in the region. As a result, broadband availability is limited. This has been exacerbated by very low GDP per capita, which has stymied consumer take-up of services where available, as also the popular use of computers. The outlook for the remainder of 2015 is characteristic of former years, with the fixed-line market likely to stagnate while the fixed broadband and mobile sectors develop steadily.
The anticipated growth in GDP per capita will provide more disposable household revenue and so stimulate demand for telecom and ICT services. This would be more marked should the country free itself from its legacy of violence, poverty, and corruption, factors which continue to inhibit prospective investors.
Among the poorer countries in Latin America, Guatemala's telecom infrastructure has suffered from years of underinvestment from state and provincial governments. Network upgrades, in both the fixed-line and mobile sector, have largely been undertaken by the private sector. A number of key players, including Telefónica and América Móvil, are regional and global powerhouses which can tap into expertise and financial resources to bolster their Guatemalan businesses. Given the commercial impetus of these operators, insufficient government financial investment has resulted in many regional areas remaining with poor or non-existent services. Nevertheless, the country benefits from one of the most open regulatory frameworks, with all telecom sectors having been open to competition since 1996.
América Móvil controls about 75% of the fixed lines in service through its subsidiary Claro. Mobile telephony has been the most developed telecom market in Guatemala for several quarters and is likely to remain so for the next few years given the poor condition of fixed-line services. The intense competition amongst operators has helped to improve services and lower prices. Mobile penetration is on a par with the regional average, while the strong growth in the mobile subscriber base is a further indication that consumers are leaning to mobile telephony as an alternative to fixed-line services.
A tax on mobile subscriber lines introduced in early 2015 saw six million dormant lines being discontinued by network operators;
Both Movistar and Tigo have launched LTE services, paving the way for strong growth in mobile broadband use;
Telephony services remain poor in many rural areas, resulting in low overall teledensity. Without regulator stimuli these commercially unviable areas are likely to continue depending on mobile telephony services in coming years.
International mobile money remittance services are expanding, with Tigo launching services with Western Union.
Due to the deficiencies of the fixed-line infrastructure, WiMAX and mobile broadband have become important alternatives to meet Guatemala's growing broadband demand.
América Móvil's AMX-1 cable is now in service, providing connectivity between Guatemala and several countries including the US and Brazil;
Guatemala key telecom parameters 2015 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed internet users | 22.5%
Mobile | 85.6%
Fixed-line telephony | 14.3%
Fixed-line broadband | 12.3%
This report covers trends and developments in the telecommunications, mobile, internet and broadband market in Guatemala, including VoIP developments.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
Facts, figures and statistics;
Industry and regulatory issues;
Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers, ARPU, MoU;
Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
Broadband (FttP, DSL, cable, wireless);
Convergence and Digital Media;
Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
Market liberalisation and industry issues;
Telecoms operators privatisation, IPOs, acquisitions, new licences;
Mobile technologies (GSM; 3G, HSPA, LTE).
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