Paraguay - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts
Increasing international bandwidth encouraging growth in internet use
BuddeComm's report Paraguay - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband, and Forecasts provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the country's telecommunications market, including the regulator's market data to June 2013, operator data to the end of 2013 and market developments to April 2014.
Paraguay endured political instability and a poor economic performance in 2012, with GDP falling by 1.2%, though 2013 is expected to have recorded growth of between 10% and 12%. The outlook for 2014 remains uncertain, but is generally expected to see continued economic growth, albeit at a slower pace than in 2013.
Almost half of Paraguay's population live below the poverty line, and though GDP per capita is improving it remains among the lowest in the region. Corruption is rife, as are drug smuggling and money laundering. Nevertheless, the country has enormous potential for growth. Foreign investors are welcome in all economic sectors.
Exclusivity and competition
The state-owned incumbent, Corporación Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (Copaco), retains a monopoly on all fixed-line voice services, including local telephony, international long distance telephony, and VoIP. In the mobile market, however, there has been competition since 1998. The internet market is also open to competition, and there are over a dozen ISPs offering services. Copaco lost its monopoly over the international backbone for internet connectivity in early 2009.
Fixed line infrastructure
Unlike Uruguay's state monopoly Antel, or Costa Rica's ICE, underinvestment in infrastructure by Copaco has meant that lift Paraguay's teledensity remains very low. In order for Paraguay's telecom market to develop and reach greater potential in terms of access and revenue, the operator needs to be radically restructured.
Another major drawback for Copaco and for Paraguay's telecommunications generally is the country's landlocked position, which makes it dependant on neighbouring nations for interconnection with submarine cable networks. This has driven up the price of telecom services, particularly broadband.
Paraguay's fixed broadband penetration is among the lowest in the region, but the market is growing rapidly, primarily in Asunción and other major urban centres. Available technologies include ADSL, cable modem, FttP, and WiMAX. Copaco has a near-monopoly in the ADSL market. ADSL is the main fixed broadband technology, but it is unavailable in much of the country due to low teledensity.
Copaco's main competitor in the fixed broadband market is Millicom's Tigo, which offers broadband via cable modem under the brand name Tigo Hogar. The service is available in Asunción and neighbouring towns over a Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) network. Tigo also provides broadband using WiMAX and FttP technologies.
Paraguay's mobile market is served by four operators: Millicom's Tigo (the market leader), Telecom Argentina's Personal, América Móvil's Claro, and Copaco's Vox.
The mobile network operators have een able to exploit the country's fixed-line infrastructure, capitalising on consumer preference for mobile services in the absence of reliable fixed-line networks. There are about 18 mobile phones in Paraguay for every fixed-line in service, the highest proportion in Latin America.
The shortcomings of the fixed broadband sector have also helped boost the uptake of mobile broadband, which is available in Paraguay through all four mobile operators using USB modems. As in other Latin American countries, it has become the fastest growing telecom sector. Strong growth is expected to continue in this market, which looks set to follow a similar pattern to voice services.
| 106.2% (Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)
The planned auction AWS spectrum in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands during the first half of 2014 will further encourage competition in the mobile market. The leading mobile operator, Tigo, is also the leading pay TV operator following its acquisition of CableVisión in mid-2012. Satellite TV services have driven the growth in the number of pay TV subscribers. LTE service launches are spearheading consumer use of mobile data services. In late 2013 the regulator announced plans to install free WiFi networks in 50 town centres by 2015, paid for by the Universal Service Fund (USF). The National Telecommunications Commission and the Ministry of Health and Welfare at the end of 2013 signed an agreement to provide free broadband and data transmission services for the public health system, to be funded by the Universal Services Fund; Paraguay expresses interest in joining the South American fibre ring project developed by the Union of South American Nations.
Paraguay is an interesting albeit challenging market for prospective telecom investors, with considerable long-term growth potential especially in the fixed and mobile broadband sectors.
The report covers trends and developments in the fixed-line, mobile, broadband, and pay TV markets.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments; Facts, figures, and statistics; Government policies and regulatory issues; Major players (fixed, mobile, and broadband); Fixed-line market and infrastructure; Broadband market (including ADSL, cable modem, WiMAX, and FttH); Broadcasting (including cable TV, satellite TV, and digital terrestrial TV); Mobile market (including 3G and mobile broadband); Convergence and triple play solutions; Internet, VoIP, IPTV; Scenario forecasts for the fixed-line, mobile, and broadband markets for the years 2015 and 2020; Tigo and Vox secure FSU funding to add locations to the national fibre network; Claro develops M2M services with Jasper Wireless.