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Telecoms revenue tops $20b as Internet picks up speed

Published:Friday | September 9, 2016 | 9:12 AMSteven Jackson
The iPhone 7 Plus is shown during an event to announce new Apple Inc products on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, in San Francisco.

Telecoms players earned $20 billion in total revenues split across voice mobile, fixed and Internet segments for the latest September 2015 quarter, or 15 per cent higher year on year, according to newly released regulatory data.

Internet revenues accounted for the fastest growth area and the second-highest earning service for telecom providers, according to the Telecommunications Market Information Report published by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) for the period ending September 2015.

The OUR apparently releases dated statistics in the report in order to avoid revealing market sensitive information for the two major competitors.

Cable & Wireless Jamaica (C&WJ), a major player, is publicly listed but its main competitor Digicel remains a private company which provides a gap at times for reporters compiling up to date information on the sector. Financial reports released to the stock market by C&WJ, which trades as FLOW Jamaica, show that the company earns revenue of $5 billion to $6 billion per quarter.

In the OUR report, mobile revenue hit $13 billion, up 6.5 per cent year on year; fixed line revenues increased 16 per cent to $2.6 billion; and local Internet revenues hit $4.5 billion or 53 per cent higher year on year.

The size of the population using the Internet amounted to 1.46 million - a base that is more than half of Jamaica's 2.8 billion population - or one-third higher than a year earlier with most of that amount on mobile devices, according to data from the latest Economic and Social Survey Jamaica published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica. That figure includes 1.3 million mobile Internet users, up 40 per cent; 161,000 broadband subscribers, up 3.5 per cent; and a flat 966 narrowband subscribers.

In the previous June 2015 quarterly report, Internet revenues surpassed the $4.2 billion mark or 153 per cent higher year on year.

Mobile and cable operator C&WJ, while not speaking directly to the report, attributed the rise in mobile data to the increased usage of mobile applications led by Instagram and Snapchat.

Teenagers and young adults - millennials - use these apps daily, and telecoms are monetising their habits. The growth has offset slowing revenues from mobile and fixed line calls.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com