Spectrum auction set to encourage cellular sector competition
Nicaragua is the largest and least densely populated countries in Central America. The country’s significant GDP growth since 2010 belies the low economic base, given that it has the lowest GDP per capita in the region, with some 60% of the population live below the poverty line. As a result, much of the economic drive has been the result of international assistance, particularly from the World Bank and other agencies.
Nicaragua’s telecoms market has mirrored the poor economic achievements, with fixed-line teledensity and mobile penetration also the lowest in Central America. The broadband market remains nascent, with population penetration at about 1%. Most internet users are concentrated in the largest cities because the rural and marginal areas lack access to the most basic telecom infrastructure. A number of internet cafés provide public access to internet and email services, but these are also restricted to the larger population centres.
América Móvil’s Claro has a clear leadership in all of Nicaragua’s telecom sectors, including fixed-line, mobile, broadband, and pay TV. Mobile subscribers overtook the country’s main lines in early 2002, and now make up the significant majority of all lines.
Telefónica’s Movistar is the only company competing with Claro in the fixed-line and mobile market. In the mobile sector, Movistar holds almost one third of the market, but in the fixed-line sector, it has only about 10% of the country’s fixed lines in service.
Due to a weak regulatory structure and bureaucratic delays, further liberalisation has been slow to be implemented. The duopoly situation has dampened the competitive drive, and as a result there has been less effort than in neighbouring countries to improve quality and lower prices. However, other companies operating in the market include the Russian state corporation Rostejnologuii, Yota Mobile and IWB Holding.
The fixed-line market will probably continue to be stable, leaving growth principally in the mobile and broadband sectors. While competition in the mobile sector is expected to improve from 2013 with the introduction of two prospective players following the auction of 1800MHz spectrum, the broadband sector will be the main growth engine given the extremely low penetration coupled with consumer demand for services. In this regard, the longer-term prospect is promising.
Nicaragua – key telecom parameters – 2010 - 2012 Category | 2010 | 2012 (e) Fixed-line service Total number of subscribers | 258,000 | 305,000 Teledensity | 4.4% | 5.3% Internet Internet users | 118,000 | 170,000 Internet users penetration | 1.8% | 2.9% Broadband Total number of subscribers | 48,000 | 50,000 Penetration rate | 0.9% | 1% Mobile telephony subscribers Total number of subscribers (million) | 3.96 | 5.54 Mobile penetration rate | 68% | 86% (Source: BuddeComm)
Spectrum allocation in the 1800MHz band to Xinwei Telecom is expected to provide a range of telecom services nationally, and help break the existing market duopoly.
The commissioned new satellite to provide pay-TV and telecom services should be operational from mid-2015, boosting the availability and scale of services both for the country and region.
Claro retains a near-monopoly over broadband in Nicaragua since acquiring cable TV company Estesa, which was the only company that offered any meaningful competition. Claro’s ADSL and cable modem services are both branded Turbonett Fijo. The cable modem service uses the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network inherited from Estesa.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Nicaragua’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments; Facts, figures and statistics; Industry and regulatory issues; Infrastructure; Major players, revenues, subscribers; Internet, VoIP, IPTV; Mobile voice and data markets; Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless); Convergence and digital media;
Government buys US$244 million satellite from Great Wall to enhance telecom and TV services; auction for spectrum in the 1800MHz band to open up mobile market to competition; regulator’s market data for 2011, market developments to November 2012.
Companies covered in this report include:
América Móvil, Movistar, Yota Nicaragua.This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Iceland.
It provides further information on:
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues; The impact of the global economic crisis; Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences; Mobile data market developments in coming years in light of spectrum auctions and new license awards; 3G developments, regulatory issues and technologies including HSPA and LTE; Broadband migration to an FttH architecture; Historical and current subscriber statistics.