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Who are the 20 Largest Operators in the Americas?

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

At the end of the September quarter, the ten largest networks in the Caribbean and Latin America region all had a minimum of 10 million customers. This remains the case in the current quarter, with those same ten and only those ten having passed this mark. In fact, the status quo is essentially undisturbed, with each of the ten remaining in the same place as they were three months earlier. In the light of this, we have decided to deviate slightly from our normal practice and to display the leading CALA operators together with their North American counterparts.

The first chart shows the 20 largest operators in the Americas. It is no surprise to see the list being headed by three American companies, but the fact that only one Canadian company makes the top 20 - and in 20th position - is something rather unexpected, especially when it is borne in mind that Canada's population is greater and significantly richer than that of either Peru or Venezuela, which have three representatives between them.

Can indoor life in Canada be so attractive that no one ever goes out?

The table of fastest growing CALA operators contains rather more changes, with Telcel in Mexico regaining its number one position from its stable mate Claro, with which its swaps places as the Brazilian company drops to second. TIM Brazil, third placed at the end of Q3, drops to fourth, while TNL PCS drops to sixth. By contrast, Vivo in Brazil, which had struggled for much of the recent past, had an excellent quarter, jumping from fifth to third.

As before, this table highlights the intense rivalry between Telefonica and America Movil, with both taking four of the top ten places, the other two going to TIM and TNL.

The chart of operator growth also includes the leading American companies - and would have included any Canadian qualifiers, had there been any - and what is perhaps most interesting is that while AT&T heads the list, quite comfortably, with 4.39 million connections in the quarter, the gap between it and second placed Telcel would have been little more than 0.1 million had not AT&T acquired Dobson in the quarter.

AT&T apart, the other top five places all go to Latin American companies, three of them from Brazil. In fact, only four US operators make the top 20, with T-Mobile (11th) and Alltel (19th) making up the numbers and Sprint Nextel nowhere to be seen.

The 12 month view shows a slightly more normal perspective with five US operators, though again, AT&T's lead over Telcel is flattered by the Dobson inclusion. Verizon has excluded the Brazilians from the top three, but they take fourth, fifth and sixth, not to mention eleventh and 19th, this demonstrating the highly competitive nature of this market.

Telcel Mexico was the fastest growing CALA region operator in the twelve months to September and held onto this position in the December quarter, with an almost identical number of new connections - 6.82 million in the latter period against 6.80 million. However, Telecom Americas closed the gap between the two quite significantly in the quarter, from more than one million to less than 500k, with a total of 6.35 million adds.

TIM Brazil was next in the September quarter, as it is here, and it too has closed in on Telcel. It ended the year with 5.84 million net additions, compared with just over 5 million in the twelve month prior period. The biggest improvement however came from Vivo Brazil, which had made just 2.59 million new connections in the year ended September, but ended the December quarter with 4.43 million, moving it up four places.

All ten of the CALA region's fastest growing businesses were able to add a minimum of 2.5 million new connections in the year.

Excluding those we have already touched upon, the other places were taken by Telefonica's subsidiaries in Mexico, Peru and Argentina (with 4m, 3m and 2.6m new customers respectively) America Movil's CTI Argentina and Comcel subsidiaries, with 3.4 million and 2.8 million respectively and TNL, with 2.9m. Lower down the league table, we see that the next four operators from CALA all added more than one million connections, with Brasil Telecom just missing out, with 0.9 million. This, of course, is now to become a part of TNL, to create a business with national coverage and a base of well over 20 million customers.

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