Nicaragua - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
Movistar extends its LTE network
Nicaragua is the largest and least densely populated country 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 living 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.
The efforts underway to build a canal between the Pacific and Caribbean, largely with Chinese funding, which will incorporate deep-water ports, an oil pipeline, railroad and international airport, is an ambitious attempt to bring to deliver greater economic benefits, though the business case for the project remains uncertain.
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 1.2%. 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 lead 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. Competition in the mobile sector is expected to improve from late 2014 with the introduction of a new China-based operator following the auction of spectrum in the 1800MHz band. The broadband sector will be the main growth engine given the extremely low existing penetration rate coupled with consumer demand for services. In this regard, the longer-term prospect is promising.
Market penetration rates in Nicaragua's telecoms sector 2015 (e)Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 6.0%
Internet users | 6.3%
Fixed broadband | 1.4%
Mobile SIM (population) | 95.7%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Movistar Nicaragua and Claro launch LTE services;
Great Wall begins work on the Nicasat-2 satellite;
Xinwei Nicaragua launches mobile services under the CooTel brand;
Nicaragua's canal project selects preferred route;
New satellite commissioned to provide pay-TV and telecom services, boosting the availability and scale of services both for the country and region.
Claro retaining near-monopoly over broadband;
Telefónica planning to deploy a 3,158 mile fibre cable covering Central America, linking Mexico to Panama via Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica;
Report update includes the regulator's market data, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
América Móvil, Movistar, Yota Nicaragua.