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Increasing Coverage of Mobile Broadband Networks Creates a Vast Market for Providers of Mobile Services in Latin America
Investments in 3G to Revive the Mobile Services Market, which is Approaching Saturation on Voice Services
Superior coverage and quality of mobile broadband services and the deeper penetration of smart devices are compelling mobile operators in Latin America to provide value-added services. To keep pace with the demands of data traffic generated by smart devices, operators are increasing capital expenditure on 3G network expansion and bandwidth capability. Some operators in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico have already upgraded their networks to 3.5G, while others are conducting trials of 3.5G and 4G. With 4G speeds reaching up to 1Gbps in low mobility communication, mobile broadband is likely to substitute fixed broadband for a large percentage of the population, opening up a vast market for mobile service providers. “Investments in next-generation technologies will stoke the introduction of several attractive services and applications for end users,” says the analyst of this research.
Despite the market potential, operators are hindered by regulatory delays. Initiatives such as mobile number portability, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), cost-based mobile termination rates, and spectrum auctions, which could have stimulated competition and attracted entrants, are being implemented only in 2012 or later in some countries. By January 2012, mobile number portability (MNP) was fully implemented only in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. In Argentina, the implementation occurred in March 2012, approximately 12 years after the publication of the decree 764, which established the right for users to change operators while keeping the number. Only in Venezuela was there no clear indication of this service’s introduction. The implementation of MNP is likely to increase competition in mobile services markets and help reduce average prices.
However, even with MNP impelling operators to innovate mobile services, the lack of competition in distant geographical areas and market concentration in some countries are hampering market growth considerably. Further, operators are burdened by heavy taxes on mobile services, especially in Brazil, while operators in remote locations and small cities will find it tough to obtain return on investment (ROI) on their network installations. To survive in such difficult operating conditions, mobile operators have to launch innovative voice and data services, bundle mobile telephony with other telecommunication services, increase 3G network coverage, and improve service quality. Mobile operators are also offsetting saturation in the voice services market by channeling their investments towards novel sources of revenues, opening a new stage in the mobile market competition. “The mobile broadband service is demanding huge investments in backbone, backhaul and other network elements,” notes the analyst. “Mobile operators will need to develop plans that do not excessively affect the network usage, while addressing customers’ niche service needs.”
Expert Frost & Sullivan analysts thoroughly examine the following market sectors in this research:
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