Light Reading
A new industry report suggests that the market for fixed broadband services in Latin America is about to grow dramatically, driven by fiber access, but I don't see it.

FTTH in Latin America – Really?

Carolyn Mathas
4/18/2014
50%
50%

A recent industry report claims that competition among triple- and quadruple-play providers is driving the adoption of fixed-line broadband services in Latin America, and recommends that service providers should provide both connectivity and content services.

I have no beef with the general conclusions drawn by Ignacio Perrone, senior consultant at Frost & Sullivan Information & Communication Technologies, but I think that drive for adoption is more like a slow crawl.

The numbers presented by Perrone look promising. In 2013, revenues for the Latin American fixed-line broadband services market were $11.75 billion, and, according to Perrone, they are set to reach $18.40 billion in 2018. The study encompasses DSL, cable broadband, fixed wireless, and fiber-to-the–home (FTTH), the latter being the most promising in the growth figures.

But why hasn't this grown faster and earlier? One reason cited is cost. Licenses for concessions, network deployment, marketing, sales, and international connectivity take a big bite out of profitability.

When I read the recommendations in the report that traditional telecom companies must become sole service providers by providing both connectivity and content services, I couldn't agree more. However, based on my experience of having lived recently in both Costa Rica and Chile, I also think that income per capita and the lack of customer service are going to hamper any such developments.

Given the average income in most of these countries, how fast could this adoption be? Here's a rundown of monthly minimum wage (2010) in US$ in Central and South American countries:

  • Argentina, $457
  • Bolivia, $110
  • Brazil, $300
  • Columbia, $261
  • Costa Rica, $388
  • Ecuador, $254
  • El Salvador, $81
  • Guatemala, $186
  • Honduras, $279
  • Nicaragua, $133
  • Panama, $371
  • Paraguay, $192
  • Peru, $200
  • Uruguay, $294
  • Venezuela, $303

I'll concede that these figures are out of date. Let's say, for argument's sake, that in the past three years, these figures have doubled. In Costa Rica, I paid $75 per month in 2013 for a very good Internet service, which I needed to be able to work. In Chile, for the same level reliable service in 2014, the cost is pretty much the same, although in both countries, it's possible to find basic service in the $25 to $40 per month range. Imagine what the price would be for an FTTH service. Therein lies most of the disconnect.

In addition to the percentage of income that these broadband services will eat up, there is a second challenge. So far, in my limited experience, customer service is not really understood as a concept in Latin America.

The company from which I purchase residential WiFi in Chile asks that I deposit the amount I owe monthly directly into its bank account -- at the bank. After many months I am still awaiting my first invoice, and I am hoping that I will be able to pay online. However, since I had to give them cash for the first month and the installation, I am not very hopeful. One of my friends moved into a high-rise apartment building with WiFi, and it took more than three weeks to be connected. Lead times for satellite service are eight weeks. And, by the way, my small town of 25,000 residents does have fiber installed -- it's just not being used yet.

I just don't see the huge demand, ability to pay, or infrastructure in place. Certainly, fixed broadband demand will no doubt explode in Latin America at some point, as the economies in the region are growing. Today, however, that explosion is pretty hard to spot.

— Carolyn Mathas, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Yulot
50%
50%
Yulot,
User Rank: Moderator
4/21/2014 | 9:28:41 AM
Colombia FTTx
Colombia has a government sponsored FTTN initiative under deployment throughout the country, to give high speed access to all communities (even the really remote ones). The project started in 2012 and is being deployed and operated by Azteca Comunicaciones (from Mexican Grupo Salinas). So not quite TTH, but at least proper high speed, as opposed to dodgy connected internet.
briandnewby
50%
50%
briandnewby,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/19/2014 | 8:28:00 AM
Re: barriers to adoption
It seems like another realistic barrier, at least in some of the countries, is that the governments aren't likely excited about end-users having better Internet access.  That would make "twitter bans," for instance, much harder.

 
nasimson
50%
50%
nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/18/2014 | 9:51:03 AM
barriers to adoption
@ Carolyn Mathas:

You have shared some important insights from your first hand experience. I didnt know that the lead time for satellite service installation is 8 weeks !!! It seems that barriers to adoption are HUGE in Latin America.

 

> And, by the way, my small town of 25,000 residents does have fiber
> installed -- it's just not being used yet.


What do you mean by "not being used yet"?


Thanks in advance for explaining.
More Blogs from Column
Norway's Lyse Smart is showing how broadband-enabled applications can improve the lives of elderly people and provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional care home services.
If we can build complex systems from simple components with precise functionality, we can more easily change those systems as new technologies arise.
A list of 10 considerations for municipalities pondering building their own broadband networks.
Communications service providers need to become digital service providers, but what exactly does that entail?
Here are some ideas for how cable operators can help low-income households connect to pay-TV and broadband services.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 2

10|21|14   |   8:51:00 AM   |   (0) comments


ARRIS CTO Network Solutions Tom Cloonan discusses why many if not most MSOs will continue with integrated CCAP, while addressing why some are also looking at two futuristic, distributed access architectures: Remote PHY and Remote CCAP.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 1

10|21|14   |   9:01   |   (0) comments


SCTE Sr. Director of Engineering Dean Stoneback discusses the pros and cons of distributed access architecture (DAA) and its various forms, which range from basic Remote PHY to full CMTS functionality in the node.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 2

10|21|14   |   3:58   |   (0) comments


ARRIS Senior Solution Architect Eli Baruch talks about how MSOs can enable public and community WiFi through 1) outdoor access points, 2) businesses seeking to offer WiFi to customers, and 3) residential WiFi gateway extensions.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 1

10|21|14   |   10:15   |   (0) comments


SCTE Director of Advanced Technologies Steve Harris discusses WiFi deployments, drivers, challenges and advances, including 802.11ac, carrier-grade WiFi, community WiFi, Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint, WiFi-First and voice-over-WiFi.
LRTV Custom TV
Advantech Accelerates 100G Traffic Handling

10|17|14   |   7:56   |   (0) comments


Paul Stevens from Advantech explains why handling 100GbE needs a whole new platform design approach and how Advantech is addressing the needs of equipment providers and carriers to give them the flexibility and performance they will need for SDN and NFV deployment.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Holland's Imtech Traffic & Infra Discusses Huawei's ICT Solution and Services

10|16|14   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Dimitry Theebe is from the business unit at Imtech Traffic & Infra which delivers communications solutions for transportations. His partnershp with Huawei began about a years ago. In this video, Theebe speaks more about this partnership and what he hopes to accomplish with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Comprehensive Storage Solutions Vital for SVR

10|16|14   |   6:16   |   (0) comments


SVR Information Technology provides cloud services for academic and special sectors. With Huawei's support, SVR and Yildiz Technical University has established Turkey's largest and most advanced High Performance Computing system. CSO Ismail Cem Aslan talks about what he hopes Huawei's OceanStor storage system will bring for him.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mexico's Servitron's Impression of Huawei at CCW 2014

10|16|14   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Servitron is a network operator in Mexico that has been in the trunking industry for the past 20 years. Its COO, Ing. Ragnar Trillo O., explains at Critical Communications World 2014 that his company has been interested in the long-term evolution of LTE technology and its adoption for TETRA.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Dubai

10|16|14   |   2:06   |   (0) comments


Abdulla Ahmed Al Falasi is the director of commercial affairs, a telecommunications coordinator for the government of Dubai. Their areas of service span across multiple industries, including police, safety, shopping malls and more. In this video, Abdulla talks about his department's work with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Lights Up Malaysia Partner Maju Nusa

10|16|14   |   1:59   |   (0) comments


Malaysia's Maju Nusa is an enterprise partner to Huawei in networking, route switches and telco equipment. At this year's Critical Communications World in Singapore, CTO Pushpender Singh talks about what Huawei's eLTE solutions mean to his company and for Malaysia.
LRTV Custom TV
Evolving From HFC to FTTH Networks

10|15|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Todd McCrum delves into the future of cable's HFC plant, examining how DOCSIS 3.1 and advanced video compression will extend its life and how the IP video transition will usher in GPON and EPON over FTTH.
LRTV Custom TV
Exploring the Future of Cable Access

10|15|14   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Brett Wingo looks at where cable access architectures are heading, discussing the impact of DOCSIS 3.1, CCAP, Remote PHY, SDN, virtualization of cable networks and related technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Forget the Internet, Brace for Skynet
Stephen Saunders, 10/15/2014
HBO Will Go OTT in 2015
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/15/2014
Google: Carriers & Cloud Providers Need to Cooperate
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/16/2014
Could Data Be the New 'Currency'?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/16/2014
iPad Air 2 Lets Users Switch Carriers Any Time
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/17/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed