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Latin American Mobile Voice and Mobile Data Market

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 penetration in Latin America and the Caribbean is almost 90%, which is close to the world average. In South and Central America, the highest mobile penetration rates can be found in Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, El Salvador, Suriname, and Panama, which have all passed the 100% milestone. In the Caribbean, most of the small island nations are above the 100% mark and some are over 200%. The highest rate has been registered in Turks & Caicos, which has a baffling penetration of 380%, equivalent to more than three cell phones per person. In these countries, however, subscription numbers are sometimes pumped up by tourists or migrant workers who are not counted as part of the population. There are also places where people have one SIM card for each mobile company. Furthermore, the vast majority of Latin American mobile subscribers are prepaid.

Mobile broadband has become an important option for broadband services throughout Latin America, as it is available in many areas that have no fixed-line broadband coverage. The service is commonly used with either a USB modem that plugs into a computer, or with netbooks, notebooks, or laptops that have a built-in 3G receiver. In 2008/09, several Latin American mobile operators entered into agreements with manufacturers to launch mobile broadband plans with a netbook or notebook included.

In early 2010, there were 54 UMTS networks operating in 25 Latin American and Caribbean countries, with about 14 million subscribers. Most operators use HSPA or HSDPA technology to provide mobile broadband, multimedia downloads, and video calling services. Several companies also offer mobile TV.

Market highlights: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 network;Venezuela is the regional leader in terms of SMS traffic, the number of text messages being about double the number of minutes the average Venezuelan talks on a mobile phone;Mexico’s subscriber growth is expected to remain in single figures during 2010/11 due to a slow economic recovery and due to penetration rates exceeding 80%;More and more people own two SIM cards in Chile - one for their cell phone, and one for mobile broadband.Latin America - mobile subscribers and penetration rate − 2008 - 2009Year | Subscribers (million) | Annual change | Penetration |
2008 | 454.77 | +19% | 78.8% |
2009 (e) | 506.82 | +11% | 86.8% |
(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU and Global Mobile)
Note: in all tables, annual change is the year-on-year change - eg: for 2008 (Sep), annual change is calculated as the 12-month change from Sep 2007 to Sep 2008. Dec is implied if no month is shown. 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 the mobile market in Argentina
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 the mobile market in Belize
2.1.1 Mobile statistics
2.2 Mobile technologies and data services
3. Bolivia
3.1 Overview of the mobile market in Bolivia
3.1.1 Mobile statistics
3.2 Mobile technologies
3.2.1 Digital
3.2.2 3G mobile
3.3 Mobile voice services
3.3.1 Satellite mobile
3.4 Mobile data services
4. Brazil
4.1 Overview of the mobile market in Brazil
4.1.1 Mobile statistics
4.2 Regulatory issues
4.2.1 Regulatory background
4.2.2 Privatisation of Telebrás
4.2.3 Serviço Móvel Pessoal (SMP)
4.2.4 Carrier preselection
4.2.5 Number Portability (NP)
4.2.6 Mobile consumer rights protection
4.2.7 Mobile spectrum allocation and concession areas
4.3 Mobile technologies
4.3.1 Analogue
4.3.2 Second generation (2G) mobile
4.3.3 3G mobile
4.3.4 Long-term evolution (LTE)
4.4 Mobile voice services
4.4.1 Prepaid cards
4.4.2 Satellite mobile
4.5 Mobile data services
4.5.1 SMS
4.5.2 MMS
4.5.3 WAP
4.5.4 PTT
4.6 Mobile content and applications
4.6.1 Location-Based Services (LBS)
4.6.2 Mobile TV
4.6.3 Gaming
5. Caribbean Countries
5.1 Overview of the mobile market in the Caribbean
5.1.1 Mobile statistics
5.2 Satellite mobile
6. Chile
6.1 Overview of the mobile market in Chile
6.1.1 Mobile statistics
6.2 Regulatory issues
6.2.1 2G spectrum auctions
6.2.2 3G spectrum auctions
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 2G mobile
6.3.2 3G mobile
6.3.3 LTE
6.4 Mobile voice services
6.4.1 Prepaid services
6.4.2 Satellite mobile
6.5 Mobile data services
6.5.1 SMS
6.5.2 MMS
6.5.3 WAP
6.5.4 Mobile TV
6.6 Mobile content and applications
6.6.1 Location-Based Services (LBS)
6.6.2 Mobile marketing
7. Colombia
7.1 Overview of the mobile market in Colombia
7.1.1 Mobile statistics
7.2 Regulatory issues
7.2.1 Spectrum regulations and auctions
7.2.2 Fixed-to-mobile call charges
7.3 Mobile technologies
7.3.1 Digital
7.3.2 3G mobile
7.3.3 Mobile data
7.4 Mobile voice services
7.4.1 Prepaid
7.4.2 Mobile satellite
7.5 Mobile messaging
7.5.1 SMS
7.6 Mobile broadband
8. Costa Rica
8.1 Overview of the mobile market in Costa Rica
8.1.1 Mobile statistics
8.2 Mobile technologies and data services
8.2.1 3G mobile
9. Cuba
9.1 Overview of the mobile market in Cuba
9.1.1 Mobile statistics
9.2 Mobile technologies
10. Dominican Republic
10.1 Overview of the mobile (cell phone) market in the Dominican Republic
10.1.1 Cell phone statistics
10.2 Mobile (Cellular) data services
10.2.1 High capacity cellular voice/data services (1xRTT)
10.2.2 GPRS
11. Ecuador
11.1 Overview of the mobile market in Ecuador
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 3G mobile
11.4 Mobile data services
12. El Salvador
12.1 Overview of the mobile market in El Salvador
12.1.1 Mobile statistics
12.2 Mobile technologies
12.2.1 Overview
12.2.2 3G mobile
12.3 Mobile broadband
12.4 Mobile satellite
13. Guatemala
13.1 Overview of the mobile market in Guatemala
13.1.1 Mobile statistics
13.2 Mobile technologies
13.2.1 Overview
13.2.2 3G mobile
13.3 Mobile voice services
13.3.1 Prepaid
13.4 Mobile broadband
13.5 Mobile satellite
14. Guyana
14.1 Overview of the mobile market in Guyana
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 the mobile market in Haiti
15.1.1 Mobile statistics
16. Honduras
16.1 Overview of the mobile market in Honduras
16.1.1 Mobile statistics
16.2 Mobile technologies and data services
16.2.1 3G mobile
17. Jamaica
17.1 Overview of the mobile market in Jamaica
17.1.1 Mobile statistics
17.2 Mobile technologies
18. Mexico
18.1 Overview of the mobile (cell phone) market in Mexico
18.1.1 Mobile market statistics
18.2 Regulatory issues
18.2.1 Regulatory authorities
18.2.2 Competition regulation
18.2.3 Interconnection
18.2.4 Identity regulation
18.2.5 Spectrum auctions
18.2.6 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
18.3 Mobile technologies
18.3.1 Overview
18.3.2 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 SMS Text Messaging
18.5.2 MMS
18.5.3 PTT
18.6 Mobile content and applications
18.6.1 Location-based Services (LBS)
19. Nicaragua
19.1 Overview of the mobile market in Nicaragua
19.1.1 Mobile statistics
19.2 Mobile technologies and data services
19.2.1 3G mobile
19.3 Satellite mobile
20. Panama
20.1 Overview of the mobile market in Panama
20.1.1 Mobile statistics
20.1.2 Spectrum auction - 2008
20.2 Mobile technologies and data services
20.2.1 3G mobile
21. Paraguay
21.1 Overview of the mobile market in Paraguay
21.1.1 Mobile statistics
21.2 Mobile technologies
21.2.1 Overview
21.2.2 3G mobile
21.3 Mobile broadband
21.4 Mobile satellite
22. Peru
22.1 Overview of the mobile market in Peru
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 3G mobile
22.4 Mobile voice services in Peru
22.4.1 Prepaid services
22.4.2 Satellite mobile
22.5 Mobile data services
22.5.1 SMS
22.5.2 MMS
22.5.3 GPRS
22.5.4 High capacity mobile voice/data services (1xRTT)
22.5.5 PTT
23. Puerto Rico
23.1 Overview of the mobile market in Puerto Rico
23.1.1 Mobile statistics
23.2 Mobile technologies
24. Suriname
24.1 Overview of the mobile market in Suriname
24.1.1 Mobile statistics
24.2 Mobile technologies
24.3 Mobile satellite
25. Uruguay
25.1 Overview of the mobile market in Uruguay
25.1.1 Mobile statistics
25.2 Regulatory issues
25.2.1 Spectrum auctions
25.3 Mobile technologies
25.3.1 Digital
25.3.2 3G mobile
25.3.3 Mobile data
25.4 Mobile broadband
25.5 Mobile satellite
26. Venezuela
26.1 Overview of the mobile market in Venezuela
26.1.1 Mobile statistics
26.2 Regulatory issues
26.2.1 Spectrum regulations and auctions
26.3 Mobile technologies
Table 5 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Argentina - 1999 - 2008
Table 6 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Belize - 1998 - 2010
Table 7 - Mobile market share by operator in Belize - 2005 - 2009
Table 8 - Mobile subscribers by operator and technology in Bolivia - 2008
Table 9 - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration rate in Bolivia - 1998 - 2008
Table 10 - Mobile operators’ market share in Bolivia - 2003 - 2008
Table 11 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Brazil - 1997 - 2010
Table 12 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Brazil - major operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 13 - Mobile subscribers by technology in Brazil - 2002 - 2009
Table 14 - Prepaid subscribers and market share in Brazil - 2002 - 2009
Table 15 - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration in Caribbean countries - 2009
Table 16 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Chile - 1999 - 2010
Table 17 - Operator market share in Chile - 1999 - 2009
Table 18 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Chile - major operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 19 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Chile - 1999 - 2009
Table 20 - SMS messages sent in Chile - 2003 - 2009
Table 21 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Colombia - 1997 - 2010
Table 22 - Mobile market share by operator in Colombia - 2002 - 2009
Table 23 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Colombia - major operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 24 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Colombia - 2005 - 2009
Table 25 - Mobile subscribers by operator and technology in Costa Rica - 2008
Table 26 - Mobile subscribers and penetration in Costa Rica - 1998 - 2008
Table 27 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Cuba - 1996 - 2010
Table 28 - Mobile (cell phone) subscribers and penetration rate in the Dominican Republic - 2000 - 2010
Table 29 - Mobile subscribers by operator and technology in Ecuador - 2008
Table 30 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Ecuador - 1996 - 2008
Table 31 - Mobile operators’ market share in Ecuador - 1996 - 2008
Table 32 - Prepaid subscriber ratio by operator in Ecuador - 2002 - 2008
Table 33 - Evolution of ARPU in Ecuador - mobile operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 34 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in El Salvador - 1997 - 2010
Table 35 - Mobile operators’ market share in El Salvador - 2003 - 2009
Table 36 - Prepaid/postpaid ratio in El Salvador - 2002 - 2009
Table 37 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Guatemala - 1997 - 2010
Table 38 - Market share by mobile operator in Guatemala - 2000 - 2009
Table 39 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Guatemala - 2002 - 2009
Table 40 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Guyana - 1998 - 2010
Table 41 - Mobile market share by operator in Guyana - 2004 - 2009
Table 42 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Haiti - 1998 - 2010
Table 43 - Mobile subscribers by operator and annual change in Honduras - March 2009
Table 44 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Honduras - 1997 - 2009
Table 45 - Mobile operators’ market share in Honduras - 2002 - 2009
Table 46 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Honduras - 1997 - 2009
Table 47 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change in Jamaica - 2009
Table 48 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Jamaica - 2000 - 2010
Table 49 - Mobile market share by operator in Jamaica - 2003 - 2009
Table 50 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change in Mexico - 2009
Table 51 - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration rate in Mexico - 2000 - 2011
Table 52 - Mobile market share by major operator in Mexico - 2001 - 2009
Table 53 - Monthly and yearly minutes of use and annual change in Mexico - 2000 - 2009
Table 54 - Prepaid / postpaid subscribers and annual change in Mexico - 1997 - 2009
Table 55 - Mobile subscribers by operator and annual change in Nicaragua - 2008
Table 56 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Nicaragua - 2000 - 2010
Table 57 - Mobile market share by operator in Nicaragua - 2002 - 2009
Table 58 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Nicaragua - 2003 - 2009
Table 59 - Mobile subscribers by operator and annual change in Panama - 2008
Table 60 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Panama - 1998 - 2008
Table 61 - Operators’ mobile market share in Panama - 2003 - 2008
Table 62 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Panama - 1998 - 2007
Table 63 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Paraguay - 1997 - 2010
Table 64 - Mobile operators’ market share in Paraguay - 2002 - 2009
Table 65 - Mobile subscribers by operator and annual change in Peru - 2008
Table 66 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Peru - 1997 - 2009
Table 67 - Mobile market share by operator in Peru - 1996 - 2009
Table 68 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Peru - major operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 69 - Mobile market share by technology in Peru - 2004 - 2008
Table 70 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Peru - 2001 - 2009
Table 71 - SMS by operator in Peru - 2004 - 2008
Table 72 - MMS by operator in Peru - 2004 - 2008
Table 73 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Puerto Rico - 2000 - 2010
Table 74 - Prepaid versus postpaid market share in Puerto Rico - 2000 - 2010
Table 75 - Mobile market share by operator in Puerto Rico - 2003 - 2009
Table 76 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Suriname - 1997 - 2010
Table 77 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Uruguay - 1997 - 2010
Table 78 - Market share by mobile operators in Uruguay - 2000 - 2009
Table 79 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Venezuela - 1997 - 2010
Table 80 - Market share by mobile operators in Venezuela - 2001 - 2009
Table 81 - Evolution of mobile ARPU in Venezuela - major operators - 2006 - 2008
Table 82 - Market share of mobile market by technology in Venezuela - 2004 - 2009
Table 83 - Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio in Venezuela - 1997 - 2009
Table 84 - SMS messages sent in Venezuela - 2002 - 2009
Exhibit 1 - PCS auctions in Argentina - 1999
Exhibit 2 - Subdivision of Brazil into regions and areas
Exhibit 3 - Geographic distribution of frequency bands in Brazil
Exhibit 4 - Mobile concessions and original shareholders in Chile - 1989
Exhibit 5 - Colombian regions for mobile licensing
Exhibit 6 - Licensed mobile companies in Paraguay
Exhibit 7 - Mobile telephony in Venezuela - historical overview - 1991 - 2000

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