Liberty Global completes integration of Choice Cable, creating a cable monopoly
Puerto Rico has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Latin America and the Caribbean region, though despite being a US territory it lags well behind the mainland US states in terms of fixed-line and broadband penetration. This is partly due to a continuing economic recession, high unemployment rates (and consequently low disposable income) and poor telecoms investment in a market largely dominated by the incumbent Puerto Rico Telephone Company.
The Puerto Rico Telephone Company’s fixed-line market dominance was augmented following its acquisition by the largest wireless company in Latin America, América Móvil. In contrast, with six network operators, the mobile (cellular/wireless) market has been experiencing more robust competition and growth. Although América Móvil’s Claro recently took the lead from AT&T Mobility in terms of subscriber numbers, AT&T regained the top position by late November following its acquisition of Centennial Communications, and as of early 2016 it accounted for about 37% of the market by subscribers.
With emerging VoIP and videostreaming sectors and steadily a growing broadband market, as well as good satellite TV services (which have caused a decline in the cable TV subscriber base in recent years), the growth and convergence of digital media looks promising. The acquisition by Liberty Global of the remaining cable TV operator Choice Cable, completed in mid-2015, has created a monopoly player in this sector. This has not been too damaging to market competition since their respective networks did not overlap, but into 2016 Liberty Cablevisión may be in a stronger position to capitalise on scale, and so provide improved services based on greater investment in technologies, including the anticipated DOCSIS3.1 standard.
Liberty Global completes integration of Choice Cable, becoming a monopoly provider of cable TV and broadband services; Senate debates legislation aimed at preventing government agencies from providing telecom services; Sprint phases out consumer wireline business and services; AT&T delivers 90% population coverage with LTE; DISH and Claro offer joint quad-play services; FCC funding for broadband extension in underserved areas; government-funded Gigabit Island project aiming to provide access speeds of 1Gb/s to 70% of premises by 2020; T-Mobile US expands LTE services; Claro launches videostreaming; report update includes the regulator’s market data to March 2016, telcos’ operating and financial data to Q4 2015, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Puerto Rico Telephone Company, América Móvil, AT&T, Liberty Cablevision; OneLink Communications; T-Mobile; Open Mobile; Sprint PCS; Choice Cable.
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