Uruguay - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband Market Analysis & Forecasts

Uruguay’s FttP network passes 717,000 households

BuddeComm’s report Uruguay - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband, and Forecasts provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications market of Uruguay, including the regulator’s market data for the first half of 2013, updated telcos’ financial and operating data operator, developments in the pay TV sector, and market developments to the end of 2013. It also provides forecasts and analysis on the market for coming years.

Economic background

Uruguay’s GDP per capita was one of the highest performing in the region during 2010 and 2011. It has since slowed to a more moderate 3.5%, a level expected to continue into 2014 and 2015. The country is among the more politically stable in Latin America, is relatively free from corruption and is not prone to the natural disasters which affect other countries in the region, particularly in the Caribbean. The government has been supportive of business, and has pursued prudent macroeconomic policies which have been sympathetic to investment. Transparent regulations, growing domestic consumption, high living standards, and a cheap labour force are expected to continue drawing international capital.

Penetration of telecom services

Bar a few Caribbean islands, Uruguay enjoys the highest broadband penetration in Latin America, the second highest fixed-line teledensity after Costa Rica, and the second highest mobile penetration after Panama. With high literacy rates and widespread computer availability, Uruguay is one of the world’s leading software exporters and South America’s outsourcing hub. In terms of computer penetration, Uruguay tops all other countries in the region by a considerable margin.

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Exclusivity and competition

Uruguay is one of the very few Latin American countries where the local fixed-line market is neither privatised nor liberalised. Antel, the state-owned incumbent, has a monopoly in the provision of local telephony and fixed broadband services. Other segments of the telecom market have been opened to competition, including international long-distance telephony, mobile telephony, and fixed-wireless broadband.

Uruguay is also one of the few countries in the world where broadband access via cable modem does not exist. Although cable networks are well equipped technologically, and digital cable TV is widely available, telecom law prohibits data transmission over pay TV networks. There are ongoing discussions over the need to change regulations and permit TV cables to carry data. Cable broadband would help strengthen the pay TV market, make triple-play solutions more widely available, and give customers the freedom to choose their internet provider.

Government broadband initiatives

Antel’s Fibre-to-the-Home (FttP) program is by far the most ambitious broadband effort in Latin America. Together with the FttP network, the opening of a new submarine cable system (Bicentenario) in early 2012 has helped boost Uruguay’s internet download speed. International bandwidth tripled as a result of the cable landing.

Antel was also one of the first companies in the region to launch commercial LTE services. The LTE network supplements FttP broadband in areas where the latter is not available. It is intended that the entire population will have access to either LTE, FttP, or both technologies.

Mobile market

Three players compete in the Uruguayan mobile market: Antel, Telefónica’s Movistar, and América Móvil’s Claro. Antel is the mobile market leader, followed by Movistar.

All three mobile operators offer mobile broadband as well as 3G services. Mobile broadband is the fastest growing telecom sector by far. Operators have achieved nationwide UMTS coverage, attracting a growing number of subscribers outside of Montevideo. An estimated 30% of the population have opted for mobile broadband, and the number of subscribers is soaring.

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Market highlights:

  • The government auction blocks of spectrum in the 900MHz, 1900MHz, and 1700-2100MHz frequency bands, raising US$64 million.
  • The government in mid-2013 cancelled Claro’s licence to provide satellite pay-TV services.
  • Antel’s LTE network continues to be expanded across the country, complementing the FttP service.
  • A service dubbed Universal Hogares aims to connect every Uruguayan home to the internet. The service is available to all those who already have a fixed telephone line, or those who acquire one, and offers basic ADSL access with no monthly fees.
  • The Bicentenario submarine cable linking Argentina and Uruguay was inaugurated and made operational in early 2012 with an initial capacity of 50Gb/s. The system’s total design capacity is 3.84Tb/s.
  • Alcatel-Lucent was contracted by Claro Uruguay to build an LTE network, with expansion to a number of cities planned during 2014. The commercial launch of LTE services enables it to compete with Antel’s service.
  • By early 2014 Antel’s FttP network passed 717,000 premises. A total of 800,000 premises will be passed on completion in 2015, offering data at 120Mb/s.
  • Antel has signed an LTE connectivity agreement with network operators, allowing roaming between LTE networks globally.

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Uruguay is one of the most advanced countries in Latin America, with a well-developed telecom infrastructure. This report covers trends and developments in the fixed-line, mobile, internet, broadband, and pay-TV markets. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures, and statistics;
  • Government policies and regulatory issues;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile, broadband, and pay TV);
  • Infrastructure developments;
  • Internet and fixed broadband market (ADSL, wireless, and FttP);
  • Mobile market (including 3G, LTE, and mobile broadband).

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