The telecom sector across the Caribbean region remains one of the key growth areas. Given the lack of economic diversity in the region, with a high dependence on tourism and activities such as fisheries and offshore financial services, the telecom sector provides a relatively high contribution to overall GDP. Major growth sectors include the mobile telephony and data segments, which continue to attract operator investment. The markets in these small countries have been progressively liberalised, and there is effective competition in all sectors.
Although there are a large number of operators licensed to provide services within individual markets, most of them are small and localised. There are two regional operators which compete: Digicel and Liberty Global. The latter acquired the regional player Cable & Wireless Communications in November 2015, a deal which also incorporated the assets of Columbus Communications. The LIME brand used by Cable & Wireless was discontinued in May 2016 in favour of the Flow brand, which had been used by Columbus International for its fixed-line services. As a result, Liberty Global and Digicel now compete more effectively in the provision of bundled services, a segment to which both operators have focussed investment in recent years. Digicel has expanded its interest in the pay TV sector, launching Digicel Play in a number of markets, while it has also invested in LTE infrastructure, switching on services across Bermuda in May 2017.
Liberty Global’s local operations formed part of its LiLAC share group before January 2018 when Liberty Latin America, incorporating operations in Chile, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and other parts of Latin America, was spun off. Together these operations had 3.7 million mobile subscribers and passed 6.4 million homes serving 5.3 million customers. Liberty Latin America now include C&W, VTR (operating in Chile) and Liberty Cablevision (Puerto Rico).
Investment in telecoms was for several years affected by the global financial crisis, which led to reduced revenue for operators, scaled-back government programs and a weakened tourist sector. Although there has been considerable recovery in economies of the region overall, the telecom market continues to see price pressure for the main operators. Some markets, particularly those dependent on agriculture and oil exports (such as Trinidad and Tobago), remain suppressed and with little prospect for growth further into 2017. This has stimulated operators to acquire smaller players within the region, so expanding their scale in a bid to maintain revenue stability. These moves have predominantly been undertaken by Liberty Global (CWC), Digicel and KeyTech.
This report analyses general trends in the Caribbean telecom market, including recent regulatory measures, telecom infrastructure updates and developments in key sectors including mobile, broadband and fixed-telephony.
Liberty Global spins off its Latin American and Caribbean businesses; Digicel acquires pan-Caribbean submarine cable systems from Loret Group; operators expand FttP in several markets; LTE launches in additional markets as operators focus investment on mobile networks; regulatory developments; operator data and statistics updates; ITU data for 2016; recent market developments.
Digicel, Cable & Wireless Communications, Globalstar, KeyTech, Liberty Global, LIME, Flow.
Number of pages 24
Last updated 21 Feb 2018
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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