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Latin American Telecommunications Infrastructure (On Demand)

Publication Overview

Latin American Telecommunications Infrastructure (On Demand) publication provides key information about the national telecoms networks and developments in both the international and local infrastructure in the following countries.

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. Researchers:- Lucia Bibolini, Lawrence Baker

This is an “On Demand” publication which is produced once an order and payment has been received. This publication will be available within a maximum of 5 business days, of your order and payment confirmation.

Latin American Telecommunications Infrastructure (On Demand)

This is an “On Demand” publication which is produced once an order and payment has been received. This publication will be available within a maximum of 5 business days, of your order and payment confirmation.

Executive Summary

Varied development of telecom infrastructure in Latin America Latin America is served by extensive submarine cable networks that hug the continent’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts and criss-cross the Caribbean Sea. Global access is also available through numerous international and regional satellite systems.

In the Latin American and the Caribbean region, telecom infrastructure varies from rudimentary or even non-existent in some of the poorer rural areas to well advanced in the major cities. Despite a low 19% teledensity (in most Western European countries teledensity ranges between 40% and 60%), fixed-lines in service have grown little since 2001, with consumers favouring mobile devices over traditional phones.

The region’s highest teledensity rates can be found in Costa Rica (33.3%) and Uruguay (28.3%), where the incumbent operator is state-owned. The lowest rates are found in Haiti (1.0%) and Nicaragua (4.3%). Venezuela has recorded the fastest growing fixed-line market since the incumbent CANTV was renationalised in 2007.

VoIP has become popular throughout the region, although the situation in each country is different. Some governments only allow licensed fixed-line voice operators to provide VoIP. Others require operators to be registered or to hold a specific concession. And others regard VoIP as a VAS that doesn’t require regulating and is covered by a regime of free competition. The only countries where VoIP is still a monopoly are Paraguay and Cuba. Besides making voice communications accessible to poorer people, VoIP has been instrumental in the success of telecentres and cybercafés, which have in turn been a key element for Internet growth in Latin America.

Table 5 - Top 12 Latin American countries for fixed lines in service - 2006 - 2010
Year Fixed lines in service (million) Annual change
2009-10 Teledensity
2010 (e)
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 (e)
Brazil 38.68 39.28 41.02 41.37 41.42 +0.3% 21.0%
Mexico 19.86 19.75 20.67 20.63 20.60 -1.0% 18.4%
Argentina 9.46 9.43 9.74 9.76 10.00 +2.4% 24.7%
Colombia 1 7.72 7.92 7.95 7.79 7.85 +0.8% 17.2%
Venezuela 4.22 5.20 6.42 6.87 7.31 +6.5% 25.8%
Chile 3.38 3.46 3.53 3.58 3.55 -0.8% 20.7%
Peru 2.40 2.68 2.88 2.97 3.00 +1.2% 10.0%
Ecuador 1.75 1.81 1.89 1.99 2.08 +4.4% 14.6%
Costa Rica 1.33 1.44 1.44 1.49 1.52 +1.8% 33.3%
Guatemala 1 1.36 1.41 1.45 1.41 1.29 +5.0% 9.0%
El Salvador 1.04 1.08 1.08 1.10 1.12 +1.9% 15.1%
Uruguay 0.99 0.97 0.96 0.95 0.95 -0.4% 28.3%
(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU and regulators’ data with BuddeComm estimates for 2010)
Note1: Estimates also for 2009.

Key highlights:


Brazil’s fixed-line teledensity is slightly higher than average for Latin America, which is in line with other indicators such as the country’s GDP per capita, also slightly higher than the regional average. As in the rest of the world, fixed-mobile substitution is a prominent phenomenon in Brazil, with an increasing proportion of the population using mobile rather than conventional telephones. Because much of the country is remote and inaccessible, Brazil is very active in the satellite sector. Three companies operate national satellites: Star One, Telesat Brasil, and Hispamar. Led by Embratel/Net, GVT, and Skype, many companies offer VoIP services to more than 2.6 million subscribers.


Mexico’s growth in fixed lines has been steadily declining over the last decade, from 13% in 2000 to zero growth in 2009. Thus, fixed-line teledensity is stagnating at approximately 18.5%. In addition, there remain significant disparities in fixed-line penetration between urban and rural areas. VoIP is rapidly gaining popularity although its growth will remain constrained by relatively low broadband penetration. Satelites Mexicanos (SatMex) operates a fleet of satellites with coverage in C and Ku bands all the way from Canada to Argentina.


Compared with the rest of Latin America, Argentina’s telecom infrastructure is relatively modern. Fixed-line teledensity is higher than neighbouring Brazil and Chile - in fact, it is one of the highest in Latin America. Nevertheless, like other Latin American countries, Argentina suffers from a marked discrepancy between urban and rural areas. While teledensity is over 40% in Buenos Aires, in a couple of provinces this figure is only around 8%. VoIP is well developed in Argentina. Since deregulation in 2000, a large number of companies have started to offer VoIP services, bringing intense competition into the market by offering alternative long-distance telephony at significantly lower prices.


Though lower than average for South America, Colombia’s fixed-line teledensity measures up favourably with the country’s economic indicators. This can be attributed to the greater level of fixed-line competition compared with other markets in the region. Nevertheless, most of Colombia’s fixed telephone lines are concentrated in the larger cities. The Colombian government has launched a tender for the construction of a Ku-band satellite called Satélite Colombiano (Satcol). Colombia is one of the few Latin American countries with Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) regulations.


While basic telephony stagnates or recedes in the rest of the region, Venezuela’s fixed lines in service increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13% between 2006 and 2009, pushing teledensity well above the regional average, from levels that used to be abysmally low compared with the country’s economic indicators. Renationalised CANTV has been undertaking social programs for the disadvantaged sections of the population, expanding the reach of its telephone network to rural areas with poor or nonexistent telecom services.

Please Note: Due to the brevity and/or nature of the content posted, there is no table of contents available for this report.

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