Snapshot: Mobile Economy Latin America 2013

A brief summary of key findings from the Mobile Economy Latin America 2013 report, published by the GSM Association.

GSM Logo (Source Wikipedia)Earlier this month, the GSM Association (GSMA) published Mobile Economy Latin America 2013, which aims to provide insights on the current state and impact of mobile/cellular communications in Latin America. In this post we will provide a quick look at the report. Specific topics or issues will be discussed in future articles.

Established on 1995, the GSMA is a globally recognised association of mobile/cellular operators and related firms (such as handset and device manufacturers), whose primary objective is to support the use of the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), especially its promotion, standardisation and deployment.  The Association’s membership spans over 220 countries and comprises over 1,000 mobile/cellular operators and supporting firms. Hence the Mobile Economy Latin America 2013 report, which is authored by the Association’s research arm, GSMA intelligence, is considered a definitive source of global mobile/cellular operator data, analysis and forecasts.

The report defined Latin America as comprising 47 countries and territories, which would include Caribbean/CARICOM countries. However, for the report, GSMA Intelligence focussed on the top 20 countries, in terms of SIM connections, which account for approximately 98% of mobile/cellular connections in the region in 2012. Hence countries from the Caribbean/CARICOM group specifically included were the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

Key findings

Nevertheless, the report’s findings indicate what currently obtains in the wider Latin American region, and what smaller economies, especially those in the Caribbean/CARICOM sub-region, could also realise.

Latin America now accounts for 10% of the global mobile market in terms of revenues…

The mobile market in the region is now moving to a more mature phase, but still with significant growth potential in the medium term…

Future growth will come increasingly from mobile broadband and related new applications and services…

Mobile operators have invested significant amounts in building out networks and increasing capacity over recent years, with a total capex figure of almost US$ 50 billion over the last four years…

The mobile industry is a cornerstone of Latin America’s economy…

Mobile is already making an important social contribution in Latin America…

Mobile broadband has played a key role in Latin America, both in boosting growth and meeting social targets…

(Source: GSMA)

The report also highlighted some of the key challenges that the wider region still needs to address in order for the mobile/cellular industry to continue to drive economic and social development. Four challenges identified were:

  • Deficiencies in current regulatory regimes, such as lack of transparency, little or no consultation with stakeholders, evidence of bias, and unclear plans and procedures.
  • An urgent need for spectrum, especially the lower frequency Digital Dividend band, for cost effective LTE deployments.
  • The posture adopted by regulatory regimes in the region was considered highly “interventionist”, through the implementation of a raft of regulatory restrictions that do not necessarily support the role and impact of the mobile/cellular industry on economies.
  • Governments and regulators have been focussing on Quality of Service issues, which although valid, appear to be flagged without recognising the challenges that the mobile/cellular operators face, some of which might be policy or regulatory-driven.

Finally, below are three infographics produced by GSMA Intelligence to capture where Latin America currently is, with regard to the mobile economy, and what might be required to foster its continued development.

Economic contribution of mobile in Latin America

Economic contribution of mobile in Latin America (Source: GSMA)

Entering a new phase of development

Entering the new phase of development (Source GSMA)
Entering the new phase of development (Source: GSMA)

Creating the right investment climate

Creating the right investment climate  (Source: GSMA)
Creating the right investment climate (Source: GSMA)


Image credit:  Wikipedia