Global Trends

Statistics on the State of the Latin American Wireless Market

Every year I look forward to hearing Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America & the Caribbean for 4G Americas, discuss the state of 3G/4G in LATM. This year was no exception.  According to Mr. Rojas, Latin America (LATM) is the region with the second largest number of wireless subscriptions in the world.  In June 2011, there were 5.7 billion subscriptions.  LATM and the Caribbean accounted for 17% of the subscribers, approximately 598M subscribers.

He described the joys and complexities of the Latin American market through a wide range of statistics.  Where possible I have added 2010 figures from last year’s event.

LATM by the numbers:

  • Total subscribers up approximately 66 million.
  • Prepaid subscribers are 82% of all subscribers, down 1% from 2010.
  • Data as a % of revenues was 22% in q1/11, up from 20% in 2010.
  • Mobile penetration is 101% in voice and data up from 90% in 2010.
  • Average ARPU is low $13 in Q2/11 – unchanged
  • GDP per capita $10, 253
  •  58 million HSPA data subscribers
  • 28 Million wireless Caribbean users
  • HSPA + 21 commercial networks in 13 countries.
  • LTE trials in 11 markets today. First commercial LTE launches are expected in 2012 by UNE (Columbia) and TELCEL (Mexico)

Given the state of LATM voice penetration, its obvious that new growth will come from data subscriptions.  Cheap smart phones being developed by many Asian manufacturers today will assist data adoption but operators still need to provide low cost data plans.  Given that most of the data growth will occur in price sensitive markets, network element suppliers, such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericcson and Nokia Siemens Networks will experience even more pressure to provide cost effective and network efficient equipment.  I’ll be closely watching LATM’s progress in LTE for potential best practices and new applications/market opportunities. I will share any insights that I uncover in this blog.


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