The GSMA today announced that by 2015, Latin America is expected to have more than 750 million mobile connections, with an average penetration rate of 122 per cent. According to the GSMA Latin America Mobile Observatory 2011 report(1), the region is one of the world's largest mobile markets by volume with more than 630 million connections as of end of 2011(2). With HSPA and LTE connections reaching more than 305 million by 2015, Mobile Broadband will be a key driver of growth, and will be the primary means of Internet access for Latin Americans.
Sebastian Cabello, Director of Latin America, GSMA commented: "As well as being one of the largest, Latin America is also one of the world's fastest-growing mobile markets. We have experienced 13 per cent growth per year for the past four years, driven by increasing accessibility, flexibility and affordability of mobile services, and boosted by the increasing affluence of the region and the relative shortage of the fixed line infrastructure. During 2011, Mobile Broadband connections surpassed DSL and cable connections and today represent the best hope for governments to realise their ICT universalisation plans."
Economic and Social Contribution of Mobile Technology
The mobile market in Latin America currently generates an estimated US$175 billion, or 3.6 per cent of total GDP, with mobile operators alone contributing US$82 billion in 2010 (1.7 per cent of the total output of the region). Additionally, the mobile industry is estimated to have contributed US$48 billion in 2010 to the public sector, primarily driven by corporate taxes, social security, income taxes, net VAT and regulatory fees. The mobile ecosystem also makes a substantial contribution to employment and has generated almost 600,000 jobs and supports 1 million more.
Opportunity for Mobile Broadband
Mobile Broadband is currently an embryonic market in Latin America with only 61 million subscribers at the end of 2011. Subscriptions have grown at 133 per cent per year for the last five years and are predicted to continue growing at 50 per cent per year for the next five years. With over 210 million internet users in Latin America, there is clear pent-up demand for broadband services. With limited further roll-out of fixed infrastructure, Mobile Broadband is set to be the primary platform for high-speed internet services for most Latin Americans who are currently unconnected.
Optimising Spectrum Allocation
Achieving greater coverage and bridging the digital divide in Latin America largely depends on how governments utilise the 700MHz Digital Dividend spectrum. Allocation of this spectrum in the short term will help connect the unconnected, accelerate adoption rates, and significantly impact economic growth. Incentivising Mobile Broadband through the allocation of spectrum is critical if governments are to meet targets and achieve their national broadband plans.
The GSMA has identified four key regulatory themes that are essential to democratising Mobile Broadband access and sustaining growth. These are:
-The need for a transparent, predictable, consultative and aligned regulatory regime
-Reducing ineffective taxation to enable increased mobile penetration
-Incentives to drive universal access, rather than universal service obligations/funds
-The importance of a clear roadmap of spectrum allocation, particularly to satisfy the increasing demand of end users for Mobile Broadband
Mr. Cabello continued: "Taking action on all these factors will enable the full extent of the economic and social benefits of Mobile Broadband services to be realised in Latin America. It is imperative that we foster, not stifle, its growth and develop the supportive ecosystem vital for the region."
To view the full report, please follow this link: www.gsma.com/mobile-observatory
The top 20 countries in Latin America in terms of mobile penetration are Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Haiti.