Central America catch-up: Sutel to auction 70MHz of spectrum in CR; Yota licence terms refreshed; Telcor installs rural infrastructure; Tigo Star goes live in Guatemala; Honduran MNP stats revealed

2 Sep 2014

Costa Rica’s Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel) is preparing to hold a new spectrum auction, and has not ruled out licensing a fourth player for the mobile sector. Allan Ruiz, the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications, revealed the plans to local news site elfinancierocr.com, noting that the first phase of the auction will likely see the provision of additional Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable spectrum, while phase two will potentially welcome the introduction of fresh competition. Up for grabs will be 40MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, and 30MHz in the 1900MHz/2100MHz bands – frequencies that went unsold back in January 2011. Market leader Kolbi (previously ICE Cellular) has declared that it has no intention of participating in the auction, although Movistar and Claro – the latter of which only launched in November 2011 – are both thought to be interested in boosting their spectrum holdings.

Nicaraguan telecoms regulator Instituto Nicaraguense de Telecomunicaciones y Correos (Telcor) has issued Russian-backed WiMAX operator Yota de Nicaragua with a data transmission licence, replacing the original fixed-wireless telephony licence it was awarded in September 2009. According to La Prensa, the new concession is valid until 30 January 2024.

In separate news, Telcor has installed nearly 600 public fixed telephone lines, 37 mobile stations and around 200 internet-equipped telecentres in rural parts of Nicaragua; the project was carried out in conjunction with the World Bank. According to local press source El Nuevo Diario, the deployments have been focused on isolated areas such as La Laguna in Jinotega, which relies on solar power due to the lack of reliable electrical infrastructure. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Nicaragua claimed just 324,917 fixed lines in service at the end of 2013, equivalent to a household penetration rate of 25.4%.

Tigo Guatemala has launched its converged Tigo Star product bundle, comprising 20Mbps broadband, fixed telephony and pay-TV. The new offering will initially be made available in Guatemala City, Escuintla and Sacatepequez. Tigo parent company Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has already rolled out its Tigo Star sub-brand in the Central American markets of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras – as well as Paraguay and Bolivia – whilst a direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV platform was launched in five countries (Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Bolivia).

The Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Conatel) has announced that a total of 37,223 mobile numbers have been ported in Honduras since the implementation of mobile number portability (MNP) on 30 April 2014. Second-placed operator by subscribers Claro claimed the lion’s share of ports, with 77.7% (28,922) numbers transferred, ahead of market leader Tigo (22.0%), and stricken state-backed operator Honducel (0.3%).