Latin America - Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
Latin American MNOs extending partnerships on path to 5G
The extensive Latin American region provides a diverse range of markers for the telecoms industry. It includes some smaller countries by population, such as Belize, Panama and Uruguay, as well as some of the largest globally, in Brazil and Mexico with about 206 million and 122 million people respectively. This wide range is mirrored in GDP and GDP per capita, two metrics which have had a bearing on the capacity of governments to fund investments in telecom infrastructure and in telcos to generate revenue from services.
While there are a number of operators in the region there are a few pan-regional players such as Telefónica and América Móvil which operate in many markets. As such they are able to capitalise on scale as well as on applying the experiences gained in one market to benefit services in another. This increasingly applies to new and emerging technical areas including the deployment of FttP and LTE-A services and the trial of 5G technologies. These regional operators have responded to competition by expanding their multi-sector offerings, incorporating mobile and fixed-line services as well as digital media.
In general terms, most countries in Latin America have poor fixed-line infrastructure: although it can be sufficiently effective in the major cities, in many semi-urban and rural areas it is woefully inadequate. This state of play has helped the development of mobile voice and broadband services. There have been considerable advances made thus far in the deployment of LTE, even though the platform remains unavailable in many of the less populated or remote areas of the region.
With regards to 5G the principal operators are unlikely to introduce services until 2021 or 2022. Countries in the region have generally been a step behind the US and key European markets in adopting new mobile technologies. To an extent, these latter markets serve as test beds for later deployments in Latin America. Factors which will influence operators’ decisions on timing the launch of 5G within Latin American markets include the success or otherwise of earlier deployments anticipated in the US and Europe, a compelling business case to warrant investment in 5G (while there remains strong potential for LTE), the affordability and availability of 5G-compatible smartphones, and the availability of sufficient spectrum assigned for 5G.
This report provides an overview of the mobile network operators and MVNOs in Latin America. It includes a range of performance indicators (operating and financial data) as well as analyses on recent regulatory developments and issues relating to market competition and to spectrum auctions and refarming.