The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) has reported significant increases in investment in the electronic communications sector within the five member states.
This is among the key findings in an annual electronic communications review conducted for the period March 2014 to 2015.
The review is done annually by the St. Lucia-based organisation and provides information on the performance and economic contribution of the sector, as well as information on deployment and use of electronic communications infrastructure in ECTEL member states.
According to ECTEL, for the second year running, sector investment recorded double digit growth, following the 35% rise in the previous period.
“Investment in the telecommunications sector surged a further 29% to $157 million. This was again driven by infrastructure upgrades for the launch of 4G/HSPA+ mobile broadband series in the Member States,” said an ECTEL news release last week.
During a recently held ECTEL media clinic, ECTEL’s Director of Economics and Finance, Cheryl Hector revealed that “investment in Grenada is $29 million, up by 21% over the previous period.”
Hector told media practitioners at the one-day session that “capital expenditure was directed to continued mobile 4G roll-up and broadband capacity upgrades.”
Additionally, fixed broadband subscription growth has accelerated with the number of fixed broadband subscriptions increasing by 11% to 97,000; resulting in a fixed broadband penetration rate of 19.2% up from 17.2% in the previous period.
It also indicated that 4G/HSPA+ mobile broadband service is now available in all ECTEL member states.
In Grenada, the fixed broadband penetration stood at 18.3%, mobile broadband penetration: 28.2%, mobile service penetration: 110% and fixed voice penetration: 25%.
The review shows that “at the end of March 2015, mobile broadband via HSPA+ technology was finally available in all ECTEL Member States.
As consumers in the member states migrated from 2G to 4G service, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by more than 400 per cent to 205, 000.”
Meanwhile, call volumes from fixed and mobile networks fell by 10 per cent.
According to the review, fixed originated local calling minutes fell by 9% to 497 million minutes and local calling minutes from mobile networks was 11 per cent less than in the previous period.
For Grenada, total local traffic was 311 million minutes (from fixed = 172 million minutes and from mobile = 139 million minutes).
Overall, consumers generated just over one (1) billion local calling minutes.
There is also good news for employment in the sector in at least two member states, following a 22% contraction in the number of persons employed full time in the telecoms sector.
There was a one (1) per cent increase in sector employment.
“At March 2015, there were 945 persons employed by telecoms operators. This increase in sector employment was driven by growth in sector employment in Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the ECTEL release said.
Other ECTEL member states include St. Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.