Paraguay’s regulator approves the National Telecommunications Plan 2016-2020
The state-owned incumbent, Corporación Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (Copaco) retains a monopoly on all fixed-line voice services, including local telephony, international long distance telephony, and VoIP. In the mobile market, however, there has been competition since 1998. The internet market is also open to competition, and there are over a dozen ISPs offering services. Copaco lost its monopoly over the international backbone for internet connectivity in early 2009.
Growth in the number of mobile subscribers has been helped by the poor condition of much of the country’s fixed-line infrastructure. Underinvestment in infrastructure by Copaco has meant that lift Paraguay’s teledensity remains very low for the region. There is little expectation that the situation will be addressed effectively until the operator is restructured.
Another major drawback for Copaco and for Paraguay’s telecommunications generally is the country’s landlocked position, which makes it dependant on neighbouring nations for interconnection with submarine cable networks. This has driven up the price of telecom services, particularly broadband.
In light of these difficulties, Paraguay’s fixed broadband market has also been hampered. The high cost of international access has contributed to low penetration though there has been rapid growth in recent years in Asunción and other major urban centres. Available technologies include ADSL, cable modem, FttP, and WiMAX. Copaco has a near-monopoly in the ADSL market, given that there is little regulatory provision for unbundled local loops and other access mechanisms. ADSL is the main fixed broadband technology, but it is unavailable in much of the country due to low teledensity.
Copaco’s main competitor in the fixed broadband market is Millicom’s Tigo, which offers broadband via cable modem under the brand name Tigo Hogar. The service is available in Asunción and neighbouring towns over a Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) network. Tigo also provides broadband using WiMAX and FttP technologies.
There is effective competition in the mobile market, which is served by four operators: Tigo (the market leader), Telecom Argentina’s Personal, América Móvil’s Claro, and Copaco’s Vox. These operators have capitalised on the opportunities created by poor fixed-line infrastructure and by consumer demand for mobile voice and data services. There are about 18 mobile phones in Paraguay for every fixed-line in service, the highest proportion in Latin America.
Table 1 – Market penetration rates in Paraguay’s telecoms sector – 2015 (e)
- Completed auction of AWS spectrum in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands enable Claro and Tigo to expand LTE services;
- Regulator approves updated National Telecommunications Plan 2016 – 2020;
- Tigo to invest $100 million to provide 66% population coverage with LTE by end-2020.
- Satellite TV services drive growth in the number of pay TV subscribers;
- Free Wi-Fi networks set up in 50 town centres, paid for by the Universal Service Fund (USF);
- Paraguay joins the South American fibre ring project developed by the Union of South American Nations;
- Regulator prepares for auction of spectrum in the 700MHz band;
- Report update includes the regulator’s market data to June 2015, operator data to Q1 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Copaco, Millicom (Tigo Paraguay), Vox, América Móvil (Claro Paraguay), Grupo Clarin, DirecTV, Personal (Telecom Argentina).
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