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Costa Rica sees two operators secure mobile spectrum at 2017 auction
Costa Rica’s liberalised telecom sector has seen substantial growth in all sectors in recent years. Although competition was slow to develop there is now effective competition in all sectors. The state owned operator ICE remains the dominant provider of fixed-line services, while the regional operators Claro and Movistar are significant players in the important mobile services market.
The number of fixed-lines fell for a number of years though more recently the decline has been offset by growing consumer use of VoIP services. This has been stimulated by the recent hike in tariffs for fixed-line calls.
Costa Rica’s broadband market is the most developed in Central America, with the highest broadband penetration for this sub-region. Geographical distribution however is unequal, with a much higher digital gap than in the case of telephone services. Compared with the whole of Latin America, Costa Rica’s broadband penetration lags behind Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and some Caribbean islands.
There was a steady increase in overall telecom sector revenue for a number of years, peaking at 24% 2014 though this has since fallen, being a more moderate 3% in 2016. Fixed-line voice services account for about 5% of revenue while revenue from VoIP services, though increasing sharply in recent years, still accounts for only 1%. Total investment by operators has fallen in recent years, from 2.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 to only 0.7% in 2016. Overall sector revenue has accounted for 3% of GDP in the three years since 2014.
The Costa Rican telecom sector has showed greater resilience than most in the region, and with the implementation of number portability there is greater scope for increased competition in coming years.
The DTT market continues to develop, with the first digital broadcast made in 2012, though there are as yet few subscribers to the service. The switch to DTTV is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
- Regulator concludes multi-spectrum auction, with Movistar and Claro securing licenses; prepares tender for an additional 15 projects funded by Fonatel;
- ICE investing more in multi-technology NGN project;
- Coopesantos launches FttP services in areas San Pablo, San Marcos and Santa Maria;
- Regulator expected to auction 100MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band by late 2018;
- Telefónica launches OTT Movistar Play service;
- Regulator determines that there is sufficient competition in several telecom market segments;
- Master Plan for DTT adopted, with analogue broadcasts to close in December 2017;
- ICE unifies its two pay-TV operations under a single brand;
- Sutel adopts LRIC model to calculate access and interconnection rates;
- Report includes the regulator’s market data reports to 2016; telcos’ financial and operating data updates to Q2 2017, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report include:
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), RASCA, Tigo, Cable Tica.