BitDepth 547 - October 24

The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago reports for the first time on the state of digital nation...
State of the digital nation

Mapping the telecommunications turf. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

The Telecommunications Authority's report on the state of technology adoption in Trinidad and Tobago was posted quietly to their website as a PDF file. Were it not for the diligent Dev Teelucksingh of the TTCS, who seems to carefully monitor every local website on technology, it would probably have missed it, so here's a big-up to him.
The report, rather unpalatably titled "Domestic market analysis of the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Sectors, March 2006," is of greater public interest than the records of dispute resolutions and complaint forms that are the usual fare on the site. It constitutes, along with the work of the Fast Forward team, almost the whole body of recorded information regarding technology penetration in Trinidad and Tobago that I'm aware of.

In its pages, TATT reports that it has authorized 86 licences for the local broadcast frequencies by March 2006, with the Minister of Public Administration and Information granting 54 concessions for their use.
Total gross revenue for the combined local telecommunications and broadcast sectors for 2005 was TT$3billion or 4 percent of GDP, with TSTT's mobile services alone accounting for 41 percent of the haul and the company's fixed line business accounting for a further 23 percent. Internet services contribute just four percent to total earnings in 2005.
Mobile data gathered by the report does not cover the entry of Digicel to the mobile market, but TATT promises quarterly reports from now on, so the next one's going to be very interesting.

The fixed line market registers incremental growth in subscribers, in single digits and fractions since the 2003 explosion of mobile handsets, and revenue on the increased lines is down four percent, which TATT attributes to the introduction of the SmartChoice package.
The mobile market, recorded for the last time before competition was introduced, placed TSTT's subscriber base at 1,029 , 822 subscribers out of a potential population of 1.3million, with prepaid subscribers accounting for the lion's share, a total of 966,668 customers by March 2006.

Those customers delivered $568million to TSTT's coffers in 2005, almost double the postpaid harvest of $323million.
Columbus Communications is the 800 pound gorilla of the subscriber broadcast market, with an 83.7 percent share of cable subscribers and taking roughly 90 percent of the sector's revenues of $61.4million. DirecTV, the sole satellite provider gets logged in this market sector and holds a 6.5 percent market share with 8,758 subscribers.
TSTT dominates the Internet services market, having successfully leveraged its position as both provider of access and of backbone to seize a 60 percent share of local ISP marketshare.

No financial breakout is available in the report for income of local service providers, and curiously, Opus Networx is listed as one of them although that provider ended its connection services in December 2005.
Internet use has grown in surges of roughly 15,000 subscribers every year since 2001, with a current recorded subscriber base of 93,448. Despite tripling Internet subscribers since 2001, Trinidad and Tobago's penetration rate for Internet use is just 4.7 percent, half the Caribbean regional average of 9.77 percent. Broadband penetration is even lower, with just 17,998 broadband connections recorded among the Internet subscriber base.

A hopeful postscript to these observations sure to be seized by Government apologists is a note that the penetration rate spiked to 15.4 percent during the first quarter of 2006.
A price appendix of Internet services offered in Trinidad and Tobago, describes a range of prices from basic household rates as low as $74 per month up to astronomical monthly fee of $12,411 for's Pipeline-128.

Unfortunately, that information is also out-of-date, WOW having replaced the product with a wireless connectivity solution dubbed Fastbox, which is priced in line with other wireless Internet connections offered by other ISPs.
This first report on the state of the broadcast and telecommunications sector, despite some flaws in reasoning and fact, delivers valuable information on the economics of the technology sector.

Download the full report as a
PDF file here...
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