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Regulator re-opens 1700MHz and 2100MHz spectrum auction
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. Economic prosperity has been stymied by income inequality, poor infrastructure and inadequate social capital.
Despite these difficulties, the telecom sector has been one of the more successful within the overall economy. This is particularly true of the mobile telephony and data sectors, which are emerging as the country's preferred telecom services given the poor state of fixed-line infrastructure in many areas. The use of text messaging and multimedia has gained traction as an alternative for voice services, and there is a clear trend towards services supported by 3G networks as these are expanded by network operators.

El Salvador's fixed-line teledensity is substantially lower than the Latin American and Caribbean average. However, there has been a significant drop in the number of fixed lines since 2010, largely due to the substitution for mobile-only alternatives.

Mobile penetration is remarkably high considering El Salvador's economic indicators, being about a third higher than average for Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the estimated total number of telephones in the country, 11% are fixed and 91% are mobile. However, the country is one of only two in the LAC region, alongside Cuba, which does not have LTE services. This is mainly due to the inadequate provision of suitable spectrum. Although an anticipated auction for spectrum will provide additional resources for mobile network operators, there is little indication yet that valuable spectrum in the 700MHz band will be released in the short term, particularly given the slow pace of switching off analogue broadcasts.

El Salvador's telecom legislation is one of the more liberal in Latin America, encouraging competition in most aspects of the telecoms sector and permitting foreign investment in all areas. However, there are no regulations as yet which promote wholesale broadband, and thus the DSL market remains a virtual monopoly for Claro. The only effective cross-platform competition in the broadband market comes from the few cable operators.

Although many companies launched services when the telecom sector was liberalised, the market has been undergoing a gradual process of consolidation, leaving a few dominant multinational operators (notably Millicom's Tigo, América Móvil's Claro, and Telefónica's Movistar), which have managed to expand into almost all sectors through a process of convergence.

The mobile market is served by five operators: Tigo, Movistar, Claro, Digicel, and Intelfon.

The fastest growing sectors in coming years will continue to be pay TV and broadband (both fixed and mobile). The outlook is especially promising for mobile broadband, which could help to bolster the slipping mobile ARPU figures in the medium term. The longer-term prospect is also promising, particularly in the mobile sector where competition between Claro, Tigo, and Telefónica will oblige the operators to diversify services and reduce prices.

Key developments:
Number Portability gains customer popularity;
Digicel expands reach of HSPA+ services;
Government increases tax on some telecom services to 18%;
MTRs again reduced;
MNOs fined for obstructing interconnection for new market entrants;
Regulator re-opens spectrum auction for spectrum in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands;
ASO to be completed by 2018;
Central Reserve Bank finalises regulatory framework for mobile financial services; enabling a range of m-payment services via subsidiary companies set up by MNOs;
Tigo launches satellite TV service, rebrands cable, broadband and pay-TV services as Tigo Star';
Fixed-line and mobile interconnection rates reduced;
Mobile network operators invest to provide near national mobile broadband coverage;
Regulator's market data updates to December 2014, telcos' financial and operating data to Q1 2016, recent market developments.

Market penetration rates in El Salvador's telecoms sector 2015 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 16.3%
Internet users | 30%
Fixed broadband | 5.8%
Mobile SIM (population) | 146%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Companies mentioned in this report:
América Móvil (Claro), Millicent International (Tigo), Telefónica (Movistar), Red, GCA Telecom, Salnet, Amnet, Sky TV.

Table Of Contents

El Salvador - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Market analysis
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Regulatory authority
5.2 Telecom sector liberalisation
5.3 Privatisation of Antel
5.5 Regulated call rates
6. Fixed network operators
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Claro/CTE Telecom (America Móvil)
6.3 Telefónica/Movistar
7. Telecommunications infrastructure
7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
7.2 International infrastructure
7.2.1 Interconnection with other Central American countries
7.2.2 Submarine cable networks
7.2.3 Satellite networks
8. Wholesale
9. Fixed-line broadband market
9.1 Introduction and statistical overview
9.2 Market analysis
9.3 Broadband statistics
9.4 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
10. Digital media
10.1 Introduction
10.1.1 Tigo (Millicom)
10.2 Communications
10.2.1 IP and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
11. Mobile market
11.1 Market analysis
11.2 Mobile statistics
11.3 Mobile data
11.4 Mobile broadband
11.5 Regulatory issues
11.5.1 Number Portability (NP)
11.5.2 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
11.5.3 Spectrum auctions
11.6 Mobile infrastructure
11.6.1 Digital networks
11.7 Major mobile operators
11.7.1 Tigo (Millicom)
11.7.2 Claro (America Móvil)
11.7.3 Movistar (Telefónica Móviles)
11.7.4 Digicel
11.7.5 RED (Intelfon)
11.8 Mobile content and applications
11.8.1 Money transfer, m-banking
12. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics El Salvador 2015 (e)
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2015 (e)
Table 3 Internet user statistics 2015 (e)
Table 4 Broadband statistics 2015 (e)
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2015 (e)
Table 6 National telecommunications authority
Table 7 Evolution of GDP in El Salvador 2000 - 2015
Table 8 Telecommunications service revenue and capital investment 2000 - 2011
Table 9 Telecom revenue by sector 2013 - 2014
Table 10 Historic - Claro fixed lines in service 2003 - 2009
Table 11 Historical - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1997 - 2009
Table 12 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2010 - 2016
Table 13 International bandwidth 2001 2014
Table 14 Historic - Internet users and penetration rate 1996 - 2009
Table 15 Internet users and penetration rate 2010- 2016
Table 16 Broadband subscribers and penetration rates 2002 2016
Table 17 DSL subscribers 2003 - 2015
Table 18 Fibre, other broadband subscribers 2013 - 2015
Table 19 Fixed broadband connections by access speed 2012 - 2014
Table 20 TV subscribers by platform 2012 - 2016
Table 21 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 1997 - 2009
Table 22 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2010 - 2016
Table 23 Mobile operators' market share 2003 - 2012
Table 24 Prepaid/postpaid ratio 2002 - 2014
Table 25 Prepaid/postpaid subscribers 2008 - 2014
Table 26 SMS traffic 2013 - 2014
Table 27 MMS traffic 2013 - 2014
Table 28 Active mobile broadband subscribers 2009 - 2016
Table 29 Mobile broadband subscribers by type 2013 - 2015
Table 30 Tigo mobile subscribers 1997 2016
Table 31 Historic - Claro mobile subscribers 2002 - 2008
Table 32 Historic - Movistar mobile subscribers 2000 - 2008
Table 33 Digicel mobile subscribers 2003 2008; 2014 - 2015
Table 34 Digicel revenue 2012; 2014 - 2015
Table 35 Historic - RED mobile subscribers 2005 - 2008
Chart 1 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2005 2016
Chart 2 Internet users and penetration rate 2005- 2016
Chart 3 Broadband subscribers and penetration rates 2002 2016
Chart 4 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2005 2016
Chart 5 Tigo mobile subscribers 2002 2016
Exhibit 1 Americatel historical
Exhibit 2 Saltel historical
Exhibit 3 Claro/CTE Telecom company history
Exhibit 4 Amnet
Exhibit 5 Tigo/Telemóvil company history

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