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Telecoms grow revenue 25% as internet usage climbs

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2020 | 12:13 AM

Jamaica’s telecom companies collected $25.6 billion in revenue for the July-September 2019 period, according to the most recent data released on the sector.

That’s up 25 per cent from $20.4 billion in the similar quarter of 2018.

The members of the market, which is dominated by Digicel and Flow Jamaica, do not reveal their financial data individually, but their regulator, the Office of Utilities Regulation, provides a quarterly snapshot on the sector.

Additionally, Flow Jamaica’s parent company Liberty Latin America releases results on its various country operations. It last reported full-year revenue for Jamaica that translated to some $50 billion in 2019 – which averages $12.5 billion per quarter.

The Jamaican telecoms market is being driven by internet usage.

There was a “virtual explosion in data usage”, said Digicel public relations manager Elon Parkinson in response to Financial Gleaner queries.

Over the period, companies introduced a series of bundled plans, repriced existing ones and also introduced ‘unlimited’ streaming on popular websites. Consequently, persons can watch YouTube without incurring a data penalty.

Parkinson said this contributed to a spike in the demand for data. On the back end, Digicel said it deepened its rural broadband mobile Long Term Evolution, or LTE, network and its fixed line fibre network to handle increased loads from customers. Flow said it did the same to facilitate online activity across the island.

Kayon Wallace, director of corporate communications at Flow Jamaica, said that mobile customers are consistently streaming, shopping, trading and chatting with friends, which reflects a global trend.

“In the mobile space, consumers want to access their content and apps on demand,” Wallace told the Financial Gleaner.

In a breakdown of the revenue streams, as reported by OUR, the biggest gain was in the internet segment, which grew 39 per cent to $9.35 billion.

However, mobile usage generated the most revenue, rising by 19.2 per cent to $13.87 billion. Fixed line brought in just $2.47 billion, but made a big gain 19.6 per cent.

The rise in revenue was not reflective of an overall increase in customers as only fixed line subscriptions grew in the review period. That segment increased by 3.6 per cent to 377,000 customers. On the other hand, mobile subscribers dipped 7.0 per cent to 2.96 million and internet users dipped 6.4 per cent to 1.8 million.

In Jamaica, YouTube ranked as the second most popular website behind Google’s own search page, according to, a data analytics company owned by Amazon USA. YouTube is owned by Google.

Persons in Jamaica are on YouTube about 12 minutes per day but they spend far longer on Shipme, a courier company that fulfils shopping orders, which holds customers online for an average of 26.55 minutes. Shipme is only bettered by gamer site Dragonballsupers at 73 minutes.