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Guatemala - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband


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World Bank invests in mobile network infrastructure, helping migration to 4G

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 2013 and 2014 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 in coming years 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 Telefonia 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 70% 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.

Key highlights:

Telephony services range from the modern network in the city of Guatemala to non-existent infrastructure in many rural areas. As a result, teledensity remains low. 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.

The wireless market has showed strong growth in recent years, with the number of subscribers increasing by some 550% between 2004 and 2011.

Due to the deficiencies of the fixed-line infrastructure, WiMAX and mobile broadband have become important alternatives to meet Guatemala’s growing broadband demand.

Digicel, which has an operating license in the 900MHz band, has yet to launch mobile services in Guatemala, though in 2012 it signed an agreement with Claro to integrate their networks in both Guatemala and El Salvador.

A mobile wallet service from Movilway may pave the way for wider consumer use of the m-payment platform in coming years.

In 2013 Telefonica signed an agreement with CMI, divesting a 40% stake in its Guatemalan subsidiary.

Congress passed legislation in late 2012 extending existing license concessions for a further 20 years. Without charging for the extension, the State thereby lost out on significant revenue.

In mid-2013 the government chose the ISDB-T standard for DTTV, with a view to ending analogue broadcasts by the end of 2015.

Guatemala – key telecom parameters – 2010; 2013
Penetration of telecoms services: | 2010 | 2013 (e)
Fixed broadband | 2.5% | 10.5%
Mobile | 88.3% | 103.5%
Fixed-line | 10.6% | 13.2%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

This report covers trends and developments in the telecommunications, mobile, internet and broadband market in Guatemala, including VoIP developments.

Subjects include:

Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
Facts, figures and statistics;
Industry and regulatory issues;
Infrastructure development;
Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers;
VoIP;
Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
Internet and broadband markets (DSL, cable modem, wireless);
Mobile market (including 3G and mobile broadband).


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Country overview
3.2 Overview of Guatemala’s telecom market
3.3 Market analysis – 2013
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.2.1 Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SIT)
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Guatemala
4.4 Privatisation of Guatel/Telgua
4.5 DR-CAFTA
4.6 Interconnection
4.7 Foreign investments
5. Fixed network operators in Guatemala
5.1 Overview of operators
5.2 Claro/Telgua (América Móvil)
5.3 Movistar (Telefónica)
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
6.1.2 Public payphones
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 Interconnection with other Central American countries
6.2.2 Submarine cable networks
6.2.3 Satellite networks
6.3 Infrastructure developments
6.3.1 IP and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
7. Wholesale
8. Broadband market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Broadband statistics
9. Broadcasting
9.1 Cable TV
9.2 Satellite-based digital pay TV developments
9.3 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
10. Mobile communications
10.1 Overview of Guatemala’s mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Mobile technologies
10.2.1 Overview
10.2.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
10.3 Major mobile operators
10.3.1 Tigo (Millicom)
10.3.2 Claro (América Móvil)
10.3.3 Movistar (Telefónica)
10.3.4 RED (Intelfon)
10.4 Mobile voice services
10.4.1 Prepaid
10.5 Mobile broadband
10.6 Mobile satellite
10.7 Mobile services
10.7.1 M-payment
11. Related reports
Table 1 – Country statistics Guatemala – 2012 (e)
Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2011
Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
Table 7 – Evolution of GDP in Guatemala – 2000 - 2012
Table 8 – Fixed lines by operator – 2009 - 2011
Table 9 – Historical - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1996 - 2004
Table 10 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 - 2013
Table 11 – Historical - Internet users and penetration rate – 1997 - 2004
Table 12 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 - 2013
Table 13 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2005 - 2013
Table 14 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1997 - 2013
Table 15 – Mobile subscribers by operator (regulator data) – 2003 - 2011
Table 16 – Market share by mobile operator – 2000 - 2012
Table 17 – Tigo – mobile subscribers – 2000 - 2012
Table 18 – Claro – mobile subscribers (historic) – 2000 - 2011
Table 19 – Movistar – Central American revenue – 2010 - 2012
Table 20 – Movistar – mobile subscribers – 2000 - 2011
Table 21 – Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio – 2002 - 2012
Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2013
Chart 2 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2005 – 2013
Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2003 – 2013
Chart 4 – Mobile subscribers by operator (regulator data) – 2003 – 2011
Chart 5 – Tigo – mobile subscribers – 2000 – 2012
Exhibit 1 – Major submarine cable networks connecting Guatemala
Exhibit 2 – BellSouth Guatemala – history

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