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Telefonica doubles down on fixed-mobile convergence in Latin America

Pan-regional Spanish operator Telefonica has gone all in with fixed-mobile convergence in Latin America, selling out of the Central American markets in which it had limited fixed presence, and increasing its investments in markets in which it operates both mobile and fixed-line services. In addition, across the region, Telefonica has consistently modernised its fixed networks, gaining 1.5m high-speed broadband subscribers in 2018, a 23% increase on the prior year.

In early 2019 Telefonica sold its subsidiaries in Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Unlike its South American operations, these subsidiaries offered primarily mobile telephony services and only limited fixed line services. This divestment has left Telefonica with a sizeable fixed-line presence in all its South American markets apart from Ecuador. Its fixed-line market shares range from 18% in Colombia to a dominant 76% in Peru. It maintains mobile market shares of approximately a third of subscribers in each of its markets. Telefonica's acquisition of TV assets in Spain has allowed the telecoms group to stabilise its mobile market share domestically. It is now positioned to be able to do the same in its remaining Latin American markets through the introduction of a more aggressive quad-play strategy. In January 2019, Telefonica introduced this strategy in Peru, launching converged packages under the brand Movistar Total, offering two mobile post-paid lines alongside its three fixed-line services (broadband, pay TV and fixed telephony). Ecuador is now the sole outlier amongst Telefonica's South American assets, and in order to implement its fixed-mobile convergence strategy in the nation, Telefonica will have to invest heavily in infrastructure or buy an existing player.