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Nicaragua - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics

Nicaragua - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics

Xinwei telecom preps for launch of mobile services

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 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. 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.

Nicaragua key telecom parameters 2014
Penetration of services: | 2014 (e)
Fixed-line | 5.7%
Internet users | 3.9%
Broadband | 1.2%
Mobile | 93%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Market highlights:

Nicaragua's canal project selects preferred route, with construction set to start at the end of 2014;
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.
Telefónica is preparing to divest itself of its business in Nicaragua and other Central American markets;
Xinwei Nicaragua receives telecom equipment in preparation for a commercial launch of services;
Telefónica plans to deploy a 3,158 mile fibre cable covering Central America, linking Mexico to Panama via Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

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.

Subjects include:

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;

Key developments:

Yota is issued with data transmission licence valid to January 2024; Grupo ICE plans to build a fibre network and offer services to businesses and to public sector organisations; government buys $244 million satellite from Great Wall to enhance telecom and TV services; auction for spectrum in the 1800MHz band opens up mobile market to competition; Xinwei Nicaragua preps for commercial launch later in 2014; regulator's market data for 2013, recent market developments.

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.


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Country overview
3.2 Overview of Nicaragua's telecom market
3.3 Market analysis
3.3.1 International collaboration
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.2.1 Telcor
4.3 Privatisation of Enitel
4.4 Telecom sector liberalisation in Nicaragua
4.5 DR-CAFTA
5. Fixed network operators in Nicaragua
5.1 Overview
5.2 Claro (América Móvil)
5.3 Movistar (Telefónica)
5.4 Yota de Nicaragua
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 Interconnection with Central American countries
6.2.2 Submarine cable networks
6.2.3 Satellite networks
6.3 Infrastructure developments
6.3.1 IP and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
7. Wholesale
8. Broadband market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Broadband statistics
9. Broadcasting
9.1 Pay TV
10. Mobile communications
10.1 Overview of Nicaragua's mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Mobile technologies
10.2.1 Overview
10.2.2 Third generation (3G) mobile
10.2.3 Spectrum auctions
10.3 Major mobile operators
10.3.1 Claro (América Móvil)
10.3.2 Movistar (Telefónica)
10.4 Mobile broadband
10.5 Mobile satellite
10.6 Mobile TV
10.7 Mobile health
11. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Nicaragua 2013 (e)
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2014 (e)
Table 3 Internet user statistics 2014 (e)
Table 4 Broadband statistics 2014 (e)
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2014 (e)
Table 6 National telecommunications authority
Table 7 Evolution of GDP in Nicaragua 2004 - 2014
Table 8 Payphones installed in rural and economically depressed areas 2006 - 2012
Table 9 Fixed line market share by operator 2004 - 2012
Table 10 Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1996 - 2004
Table 11 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2005 - 2014
Table 12 Internet subscriber market share by operator 2008 - 2011
Table 13 Internet access connections 2000 - 2014
Table 14 Broadband subscribers and penetration rates 2000 - 2014
Table 15 Broadband subscribers by platform, fixed and mobile 2008 - 2014
Table 16 Fixed-line broadband market share by platform 2011
Table 17 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 1997 - 2004
Table 18 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2005 - 2014
Table 19 Mobile market share by operator 2002 - 2013
Table 20 Mobile prepaid/postpaid ratio 2003 - 2013
Table 21 Historic - Claro mobile subscribers 2003 - 2008
Table 22 Historic - Movistar mobile subscribers 2000 2008
Chart 1 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2003 2014
Chart 2 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2003 2014
Chart 3 Mobile market share by operator 2002 2013
Exhibit 1 Nicaragua major submarine cable networks
Exhibit 2 Aló PCS history
Exhibit 3 Enitel Movil history
Exhibit 4 Movistar history

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