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INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Central America

Thu, 05/31/2007 - 8:35pm
Compiled by Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor

Central AmericaBroadband subscribers continue to increase in Central America, but the overall total is low compared with other parts of the world. This is because countries like Guatemala, the most populous country in Central America, are held back by poverty, income inequality and violence.

But technologies such as digital TV, VoIP, Wi-Fi and WiMAX are expanding in the region. And if the rumor regarding América Móvil’s upcoming acquisition of cable operator Amnet is true, it would mark the first quadruple-play service offering.

What follows is a brief look at broadband in Central America.

Region’s major operators

  • América Móvil; headquarters: Mexico City; largest Latin American mobile operator; offers voice and data services; serves 5.9 million subs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.*
  • Amnet; headquarters: San José, Costa Rica; largest cable MSO in Central America; offers data and telecom services in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
  • DirecTV Latin America (DTVLA); DirecTV headquarters: El Segundo, Calif.; offers DTH satellite TV service to 1.5 million subs in 27 Latin American countries*; serves every Central American country except Belize.
  • Globalstar; headquarters: Milpitas, Calif.; provides satellite voice and data services in every Central American country.

Belize

  • Population: 294, 385*
  • 34,300 fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 38,000 Internet users**
  • 4,200 broadband subs**
  • Belize Telecommunications Ltd. (BTL) holds a virtual monopoly and has a firewall in place to block VoIP providers.**
  • Satellite Internet access became popular in 2004, offered by HughesNet (authorized by Telemanage) and Starband.**

Costa Rica

  • Population: 4.1 million*
  • 1 million fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 1.2 million Internet users**
  • 46,000 broadband subs**
  • Cable Tica offers cable Internet, and cable and digital TV services in and around San José; Cable América also provides cable TV service in the country.
  • Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) and its subsidiary RACSA hold a monopoly in the telecom space and have blocked outside VoIP service.**
  • The place to be in Central America for e-commerce and Internet-related activities due to the country’s political stability, educated workforce and central geographic position.**

El Salvador

  • Population: 6.9 million*
  • 985,000 fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 637,000 Internet users**
  • 42,300 broadband subs**
  • Mobile is booming; VoIP and cable telephony are picking up.*

Guatemala

  • Population: 12.7 million*
  • 1.3 million fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 1 million Internet users**
  • 27,100 broadband subs**
  • Comtech is the largest cable operator in the country and represents 88 percent of Guatemalans with spending power.*
  • Broadband competition has increased with new carriers entering the market, and this has caused prices to drop significantly.**

Honduras

  • Population: 7.5 million*
  • 550,000 fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 260,000 Internet users**
  • One of the poorest Latin American countries.**
  • Wireless broadband demand is increasing due to the inability of fixed-line and cable networks to satisfy growth rates.**

Nicaragua

  • Population: 5.7 million*
  • 232,300 fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 140,000 Internet users**
  • 10,534 broadband subs**
  • Has the lowest teledensity of any Central American country.**
  • Estesa provides cable, Internet and data services via its fiber network in the country; Ameri-Cable also provides cable TV service.

Panama

  • Population: 3.2 million*
  • 440,100 fixed telephone lines in service**
  • 206,000 Internet users**
  • 17,600 broadband subs**
  • Cable Onda offers triple-play services in the country.
  • There is excellent access to multiple high-bandwidth fiber optic networks.**

* As of May 2007

** As of March 2006; Source: BuddeComm

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