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Latin American Mobile Voice and Mobile Data Market


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

This report covers developments in the mobile voice and data markets of Latin America and the Caribbean. The countries covered in this report include: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the small Caribbean island nations.


Mobile telephony has been by far the most dynamic telecom sector in the Latin American and the Caribbean region. Prepaid services have played an important role in the sector’s success, as they have made cell phones available to millions of low-income users, once excluded by monthly payments and credit checks.

  Natural factors have also contributed to wireless popularity in a continent where mountainous terrain and remote rural areas make the laying of cable uneconomical, and where hurricanes and earthquakes have caused major destruction to fixed-line networks.  

The region is becoming fertile soil for 3G WCDMA services, following substantial increases in coverage and in subscriber numbers during 2008. In early 2009, there were about 5 million 3G subscribers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

  Mobile penetration has reached about 80%, well above the world average, which was about 58% in early 2009. Several countries, including Argentina, Jamaica, Uruguay, and Venezuela have passed the 100% penetration threshold.  

Top 10 Latin American countries for mobile subscribers - 2007 - 2008 Country | 2007 | 2008 | Annual change | Penetration | Mobile subscribers (million) | Brazil | 122.11 | 152.44 | +24.8% | 78.9% | Mexico | 68.68 | 78.46 | +14.2% | 74.1% | Argentina | 38.44 | 43.82 | +14.0% | 110.3% | Colombia | 33.94 | 41.36 | +21.9% | 85.7% | Venezuela | 23.82 | 28.21 | +18.4% | 101.0% | Peru | 14.00 | 18.45 | +31.8% | 63.3% | Chile | 14.60 | 15.90 | +8.9% | 94.4% | Ecuador | 9.91 | 11.40 | +15.0% | 82.5% | Guatemala | 9.20 | 10.50 | +14.2% | 76.8% | Dominican Republic | 5.52 | 7.02 | +27.2% | 79.4% | | (Source: BuddeComm based on Global Mobile)  

Key highlights:Argentina

Argentina’s mobile market is the third largest in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. In terms of mobile penetration, Argentina is the leader in South and Central America, although trailing many of the Caribbean islands. Three operators, Movistar, Claro, and Telecom Personal, run a close competition for market share. All three companies have launched 3G services over HSDPA networks, and have extended 3G coverage to all of Argentina’s 23 provinces. Spectrum auctions are expected to take place in 2009. Despite having reached maturity and passed the 100% penetration threshold, the Argentine mobile market still has some potential for growth, once the economic downturn lifts.  

Brazil

In terms of subscribers, Brazil’s mobile market is the fifth largest in the world. Yet, although Brazil holds almost one third of all the mobile users in Latin America, its mobile penetration is lower than the regional average. Number portability is being introduced gradually, starting with the city of São Paulo in August 2008, and concluding with nationwide implementation by March 2009. WCDMA has made a strong start; 3G services are present in almost every single Brazilian state, with the following operators operating UMTS networks: Vivo, Claro, TIM Brazil, Oi, Brasil Telecom, and CTBC. Vivo and Claro have the most extensive 3G coverage, each company servicing well over 200 municipalities.  

Mexico

Driven by a booming GSM sector, Mexico’s mobile industry is growing at a yearly rate of approximately 17% per annum, achieving more than 70% penetration by the end of 2008. Mexico’s mobile market is the most dynamic sector in the telecommunications industry, which remains in double figure revenue growth despite the broader economy entering a period of recession. The implementation of mobile number portability in mid-2008 together with the planned wireless spectrum auctions in early 2009 are expected to boost competition in the mobile market and facilitate the launch of next generation mobile technology.  

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

1. Argentina
1.1 Overview of Argentina’s mobile market
1.1.1 Mobile statistics
1.2 Regulatory issues
1.2.1 Calling Party Pays (CPP)
1.2.2 Spectrum auctions
1.3 Mobile technologies
1.3.1 Digital
1.3.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
1.4 Mobile voice services
1.4.1 Prepaid services
1.4.2 Satellite mobile
1.5 Mobile data services
1.5.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
1.5.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
1.5.3 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
1.5.4 BlackBerry
1.5.5 iPhone 3G
1.5.6 Mobile TV
1.6 Mobile content and applications
1.6.1 M-banking
2. Belize
2.1 Overview of Belize’s mobile market
2.1.1 Mobile statistics
2.2 Mobile technologies and data services
3. Bolivia
3.1 Overview of Bolivia’s mobile market
3.1.1 Mobile statistics
3.2 Mobile technologies and mobile data services
3.2.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
3.3 Regulatory issues
3.4 Mobile voice services
3.4.1 Prepaid
3.4.2 Satellite mobile
4. Brazil
4.1 Overview of Brazil’s mobile market
4.1.1 Mobile statistics
4.2 Privatisation of Telebrás
4.3 Regulatory issues
4.3.1 Carrier preselection
4.3.2 Number portability (NP)
4.3.3 Mobile consumer rights protection
4.3.4 Spectrum regulations and spectrum auctions
4.4 Mobile technologies
4.4.1 SMP and SMC
4.4.2 GSM
4.4.3 Third generation mobile
4.5 Mobile voice services
4.5.1 Prepaid cards
4.5.2 Satellite mobile
4.5.3 In-flight mobile phone usage
4.6 Mobile data services
4.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
4.6.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
4.6.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
4.6.4 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
4.6.5 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
4.6.6 High capacity mobile voice/data services (1xRTT)
4.6.7 Broadband wireless data service (1x EV-DO)
4.6.8 BlackBerry
4.6.9 Mobile TV
4.6.10 iPhone
4.7 Mobile content and applications
4.7.1 Location-Based Services (LBS)
4.7.2 Gaming
4.7.3 Mobile banking
5. Caribbean Countries
5.1 Overview of mobile markets in the Caribbean
5.1.1 Mobile statistics
5.2 Satellite mobile
6. Chile
6.1 Overview of Chile’s mobile market
6.1.1 Mobile statistics
6.2 Regulatory issues
6.2.1 Spectrum auctions - historical review
6.2.2 Spectrum auction - 2006
6.2.3 Fixed-to-mobile call charges
6.2.4 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
6.2.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
6.3 Mobile technologies
6.3.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
6.3.2 3G spectrum auction
6.4 Mobile voice services
6.4.1 Prepaid cards
6.4.2 Satellite mobile
6.5 Mobile data services
6.5.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
6.5.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
6.5.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
6.5.4 Mobile TV
6.6 Mobile content and applications
6.6.1 Location-Based Services (LBS)
6.7 Mobile marketing
7. Colombia
7.1 Overview of Colombia’s mobile market
7.1.1 Mobile statistics
7.2 Regulatory issues
7.2.1 Spectrum auctions
7.3 Mobile technologies
7.3.1 Digital
7.3.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
7.4 Mobile voice services
7.4.1 Prepaid services
7.4.2 Satellite mobile
7.5 Mobile data services
7.5.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
8. Costa Rica
8.1 Overview of Costa Rica’s mobile market
8.1.1 Mobile statistics
8.2 Mobile technologies and data services
8.2.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
9. Cuba
9.1 Overview of Cuba’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile statistics
9.2 Mobile technologies
10. Dominican Republic
10.1 Overview of the Dominican Republic’s mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Cellular data services
10.2.1 High capacity cellular voice/data services (1xRTT)
10.2.2 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
11. Ecuador
11.1 Overview of Ecuador’s mobile market
11.1.1 Mobile statistics
11.2 Regulatory issues
11.2.1 Mobile licence renewals in 2008
11.2.2 Accusations levied against América Móvil
11.3 Mobile technologies and data services
11.3.1 Digital
11.3.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
11.4 Mobile data services
12. El Salvador
12.1 Overview of El Salvador’s mobile market
12.1.1 Mobile statistics
12.2 Mobile technologies and data services
12.2.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
13. Guatemala
13.1 Overview of Guatemala’s mobile market
13.1.1 Mobile statistics
13.2 Mobile technologies and data services
13.2.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
13.3 Mobile voice services
13.3.1 Prepaid cards
14. Guyana
14.1 Overview of Guyana’s mobile market
14.1.1 Mobile statistics
14.2 Mobile technologies and mobile data services
14.3 Mobile voice services
14.3.1 Satellite mobile
15. Haiti
15.1 Overview of Haiti’s mobile market
15.1.1 Mobile statistics
16. Honduras
16.1 Overview of the Honduran mobile market
16.1.1 Mobile statistics
16.2 Mobile technologies and data services
16.2.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
17. Jamaica
17.1 Overview of Jamaica’s mobile market
17.1.1 Mobile statistics
17.2 Mobile technologies
18. Mexico
18.1 Overview of Mexico’s mobile market
18.1.1 Mobile statistics
18.2 Regulatory issues
18.2.1 Spectrum auctions
18.2.2 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
18.3 Mobile technologies
18.3.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
18.4 Mobile voice services
18.4.1 Minutes of Use (MOU)
18.4.2 Prepaid
18.4.3 Satellite mobile
18.5 Mobile data services
18.5.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
18.5.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
18.5.3 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
18.5.4 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
18.5.5 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
18.5.6 High capacity mobile voice/data services (CDMA2000 1xRTT)
18.5.7 Broadband wireless data service (1x EV-DO)
18.6 Mobile content and applications
18.6.1 Location-Based Services (LBS)
19. Nicaragua
19.1 Overview of Nicaragua’s mobile market
19.1.1 Mobile statistics
19.2 Mobile technologies and data services
19.2.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
19.3 Satellite mobile
20. Panama
20.1 Overview of Panama’s mobile market
20.1.1 Mobile statistics
20.2 Spectrum auction - 2008
20.3 Mobile technologies and data services
20.3.1 Third generation (3G) mobile
21. Paraguay
21.1 Overview of Paraguay’s mobile market
21.1.1 Mobile statistics
21.2 Mobile technologies
21.2.1 Digital
21.2.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
21.3 Mobile voice services
21.3.1 Satellite mobile
21.4 Mobile data services
22. Peru
22.1 Overview of Peru’s mobile market
22.1.1 Mobile subscriber statistics
22.2 Regulatory issues
22.2.1 Spectrum regulations and spectrum auctions
22.3 Mobile technologies
22.3.1 Digital
22.3.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
22.4 Mobile voice services
22.4.1 Prepaid services
22.4.2 Satellite mobile
22.5 Mobile data services
22.5.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
22.5.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
22.5.3 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
22.5.4 High capacity mobile voice/data services (1xRTT)
22.5.5 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
23. Puerto Rico
23.1 Overview of Puerto Rico’s Mobile market
23.1.1 Mobile statistics
23.2 Mobile technologies
24. Suriname
24.1 Overview of Suriname’s mobile market
24.1.1 Mobile statistics
24.2 Mobile technologies and mobile data services
24.3 Mobile voice services
24.3.1 Prepaid services
24.3.2 Satellite mobile
25. Uruguay
25.1 Overview of Uruguay’s mobile market
25.1.1 Mobile statistics
25.2 Regulatory issues
25.2.1 Spectrum auctions
25.3 Mobile technologies and mobile data services
25.3.1 Digital
25.3.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
25.4 Mobile data services
25.5 Mobile voice services
25.5.1 Satellite mobile
26. Venezuela
26.1 Overview of Venezuela’s mobile market
26.1.1 Mobile statistics
26.2 Regulatory issues
26.2.1 Spectrum auctions
26.3 Mobile technologies
26.3.1 Digital
26.3.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
26.4 Mobile voice services
26.5.5 iPhone 3G
27. Glossary of Abbreviations
Table 1 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Argentina - September 2008
Table 2 - Mobile subscribers and penetration in Argentina - 1997 - 2008
Table 3 - Mobile operators’ market share in Argentina - 1999 - 2008
Table 4 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Argentina - major operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 5 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Argentina - 1999 - 2008
Table 6 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Belize - 1998 - 2008
Table 7 - Mobile market share by operator in Belize - 2005 - 2008
Table 8 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Bolivia - September 2008
Table 9 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Bolivia - 1997 - 2008
Table 10 - Mobile market share by operator in Bolivia - 2003 - 2008
Table 11 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Brazil - June 2008
Table 12 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Brazil - 1997 - 2008
Table 13 - Operator’s market share in Brazil - 2003 - 2008
Table 14 - Band A, B, D, and E subscribers in Brazil - 2000 - 2008
Table 15 - Mobile subscribers by technology in Brazil - 2002 - 2008
Table 16 - Market share by technology in Brazil - 2002 - 2008
Table 17 - Market share annual change by technology in Brazil - 2003 - 2008
Table 18 - Prepaid subscribers and prepaid market share in Brazil - 2002 - 2008
Table 19 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rates in the Caribbean countries - 2008
Table 20 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Chile - September 2008
Table 21 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Chile - 1999 - 2008
Table 22 - Operator market share in Chile - 1999 - 2008
Table 23 - Evolution of ARPU in Chile - mobile operators - 2005 - 2007
Table 24 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Chile - 1999 - 2008
Table 25 - Mobile operators and subscribers in Colombia - September 2008
Table 26 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Colombia - 1997 - 2008
Table 27 - Mobile market share by operator in Colombia - 2002 - 2008
Table 28 - Evolution of ARPU in Colombia - mobile operators - 2005 - 2007
Table 29 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Colombia - 2005 - 2008
Table 30 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Costa Rica - 2008
Table 31 - Mobile subscribers and penetration in Costa Rica - 1998 - 2008
Table 32 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Cuba - 1996 - 2008
Table 33 - Mobile operators and subscribers in the Dominican Republic - 2008
Table 34 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in the Dominican Republic - 1997 - 2008
Table 35 - Mobile operator’s market share in the Dominican Republic - 2003 - 2008
Table 36 - Postpaid/prepaid ratio in the Dominican Republic - 2001 - 2008
Table 37 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Ecuador - 2008
Table 38 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Ecuador - 1996 - 2008
Table 39 - Mobile operators’ market share in Ecuador - 1996 - 2008
Table 40 - Prepaid subscriber ratio by operator in Ecuador - 2002 - 2008
Table 41 - Evolution of ARPU in Ecuador - mobile operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 42 - Mobile operators’ market share in El Salvador - 2003 - 2008
Table 43 - Mobile subscribers by operator in El Salvador - September 2008
Table 44 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in El Salvador - 1998 - 2008
Table 45 - Prepaid/postpaid ratio in El Salvador - 2002 - 2008
Table 46 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Guatemala - 2008
Table 47 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Guatemala - 1997 - 2008
Table 48 - Market share by mobile operator in Guatemala - 2000 - 2008
Table 49 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Guatemala - 2002 - 2008
Table 50 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Guyana - 1998 - 2008
Table 51 - Mobile market share by operator in Guyana - 2003 - 2008
Table 52 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Haiti - 1998 - 2008
Table 53 - Mobile operators’ market share in Honduras - 2002 - 2008
Table 54 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Honduras - 2008
Table 55 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Honduras - 1997 - 2008
Table 56 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Honduras - 1997 - 2007
Table 57 - Mobile operators and subscribers in Jamaica - September 2008
Table 58 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Jamaica - 1997 - 2008
Table 59 - Mobile market share by operator in Jamaica - 2003 - 2008
Table 60 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Mexico - September 2008
Table 61 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Mexico - 1996 - 2008
Table 62 - Mobile market share by major operator in Mexico - 2001 - 2008
Table 63 - Mobile penetration by region in Mexico - 2002 - 2006
Table 64 - Monthly and yearly minutes of use in Mexico - 2000 - 2007
Table 65 - Prepaid/postpaid subscribers in Mexico - 1997 - 2008
Table 66 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Nicaragua - September 2008
Table 67 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Nicaragua - 2000 - 2008
Table 68 - Mobile market share by operator in Nicaragua - 2002 - 2008
Table 69 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Nicaragua - 2003 - 2008
Table 70 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Panama - 2008
Table 71 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Panama - 1998 - 2008
Table 72 - Operators’ mobile market share in Panama - 2003 - 2008
Table 73 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Panama - 1998 - 2007
Table 74 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Paraguay - 2008
Table 75 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Paraguay - 1998 - 2008
Table 76 - Mobile operators’ market share in Paraguay - 2003 - 2008
Table 77 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Peru - September 2008
Table 78 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Peru - 1997 - 2008
Table 79 - Mobile market share by operator in Peru - 1996 - 2008
Table 80 - Evolution of ARPU in Peru - mobile operators - 2005 - 2007
Table 81 - Mobile market share by technology in Peru - 2004 - 2008
Table 82 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Peru - 2001 - 2008
Table 83 - SMS by operator in Peru - 2004 - 2007
Table 84 - MMS by operator in Peru - 2004 - 2007
Table 85 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Puerto Rico - 2008
Table 86 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Puerto Rico - 2000 - 2009
Table 87 - Mobile market share by operator in Puerto Rico - 2003 - 2008
Table 88 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Suriname - 1997 - 2008
Table 89 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Uruguay - 2008
Table 90 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Uruguay - 1997 - 2008
Table 91 - Market share by mobile operators in Uruguay - 2000 - 2008
Table 92 - Mobile subscribers by operator in Venezuela - September 2008
Table 93 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Venezuela - 1997 - 2008
Table 94 - Market share by mobile operator in Venezuela - 2001 - 2008
Table 95 - Evolution of ARPU in Venezuela - mobile operators - 2005 - 2007
Table 96 - Market share of mobile market by technology in Venezuela - 2004 - 2008
Table 97 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Venezuela - 1997 - 2008
Table 98 - SMS messages sent in Venezuela - 2002 - 2008
Exhibit 1 - PCS auctions in Argentina - 1999
Exhibit 2 - Subdivision of Brazil into regions and areas
Exhibit 3 - A-band mobile operators and technologies in Brazil
Exhibit 4 - B-band mobile operators and technologies in Brazil
Exhibit 5 - D-band mobile operators and technologies in Brazil
Exhibit 6 - E-band mobile operators and technologies in Brazil
Exhibit 7 - 3G auction winners in Brazil
Exhibit 8 - Bands F, G, I, and J for 3G services - areas and operators in Brazil
Exhibit 9 - Mobile concessions and original shareholders in Chile - 1989
Exhibit 10 - Colombian regions for mobile licensing
Exhibit 11 - Mobile telephone regions in Mexico
Exhibit 12 - Mobile telephony in Venezuela - historical overview - 1991 - 2000

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