Digicel, the Jamaica-based mobile operator which has quickly become the kingpin of mobile providers in the region, is set to claim more subscribers this year, according to a recently released report by Paul Budde, who runs a respected research house in Australia called BuddeComm.
Key highlights and predictions in the report include:
· The acrimonious relationship between Digicel and C&W in the Caribbean region looks to set to continue with Digicel announcing in January its intention to sue C&W for defamation. Meanwhile its most significant claim against C&W, filed back in mid-2007, is yet to come before the British High Court.
· C&W has attempted to shrug off its negative image by rebranding its Caribbean unit in late 2008 as LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment). C&W’s rebranding strategy forms part of an overall regional transformation plan valued at $300 million.
· Digicel continued to be the fastest growing mobile company in the region, recording subscriber growth rates in the order of 40% during its 2008 financial year. Digicel also continued to expand into new markets with its launch in the British Virgin Islands in December 2008.
· In 2008 the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations (CANTO) launched the Connect the Caribbean (CTC) initiative, aimed at mobilising resources towards the common goal of closing the digital divide in the region.
· GSM continues to be the mobile technology of choice in the Caribbean, with over 85% of mobile customers in Latin America and the Caribbean employing GSM mobile technology.
· Growth during 2009 will continue to be fueled by declining tariffs in the mobile and long-distance sector, and by increased deployment of broadband networks.
· As mobile penetration rates are still relatively low, it is predicted that the mobile market will continue to enjoy solid subscriber and revenue growth rates during 2009. However, the world economic downturn is expected to constrain major investments during 2009 and 2010.