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Haiti again turns attention to digital broadcasting
Haiti’s economic and social indicators remain far lower than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The recent years of political and economic turmoil and natural disasters, most recently Hurricane Matthew which hit the island in August 2016, have stifled most sectors of the economy, including the telecoms sector which remains one of the least developed in the world. The regulator reported that Hurricane Matthew caused about $35 million in damage to equipment owned by Natcom, Digicel and Access Haiti.
In the internet market, poor fixed-line infrastructure obliged most businesses to rely on satellite and wireless technologies. However, the launch of services by Natcom in late 2011 has provided a significant boost to the sector. The company in subsequent years built three international gateways and quadrupled international connectivity. As a result broadband services are much more readily available, and Natcom has become a wholesale provider for the small number of other ISPs in the market. Nevertheless, there remain significant barriers to fixed-line broadband development, not least of which is the low income level among the majority of the population, low PC penetration and the perennial problem of equipment theft. Although Natcom has built a fibre backbone running to dome 6,500km, which is steadily growing fixed-line broadband sector, practical challenges mean that for the majority people and businesses connectivity is achieved through mobile networks.
Natcom also introduced a competitive boost to the mobile sector in 2011, though this was set back to some degree by the Digicel Group’s acquisition of the number two player Voilà, and the integration of the latter’s mobile network in late 2012. With the collapse of the third operator HaiTel in mid-2013, this left Digicel with about 74% market share of subscribers. Nevertheless, the economies of scale together with Digicel’s interest in promoting LTE as well as innovative mobile data services such as mobile banking should considerably improve internet connectivity in rural areas in coming years, and enable communities to make greater use of internet services where fixed-line infrastructure remains inadequate.
- Hurricane Matthew causing $35 million damage to telecoms infrastructure;
- Regulator revives process for switching to digital broadcasts;
- Fixed-line teledensity remaining amongst the lowest in the world;
- Digicel launches its Digicel 2030 transformation program;
- Natcom expands LTE services;
- Digicel’s TchoTcho mobile payment platform secures two million subscribers;
- Report update includes the regulator’s market data to September 2016.
Natcom, HaiTel, Digicel, Rectel, Comcel, Teleco.