Ronald Jimenez, Residential Business Unit Director at Telecable Costa Rica, reported during the first Nextv Series Central America’s virtual edition that the company started to build its FTTH network in 2019, and now has 111 districts in the country. In addition, the executive explained that the company expects to complete the migration of 100% of its clients to FTTH during the next two years. His statements took place during the panel ‘The new OTT era of pay TV operators in Central America’, in which Gerardo Ordoñez, General Manager at Cable Color; Rodolfo Caraccioli, Home Segment Manager at Tigo Honduras; and Gabriel Hahmann, Sales Director, Brazil and Southern Cone at Irdeto, have also participated.
Regarding Cable Color’s expansion at the regional level in Central America, Ordoñez assured that ‘Cable Color started in Honduras, offering telecommunications services, especially internet and cable TV. We are the operator with the largest presence in the entire Honduran region. Then, we began to direct our gaze to the other Central American countries, and our motivation is based on the fact that, although there are traditional operators that, little by little, have strengthened themselves in the market, we also decided to take that path. We have technology, we know the industry, we are a totally differentiated operator in services, attacking the market with a very aggressive marketing initiative in each of the regions in which we are reaching, and that is how we began to develop our expansion strategy at the regional level’. This way, Ordoñez reported that Cable Color is operating ‘in all the Central American countries. We lacked Nicaragua, but we just acquired an operation there, and we already have coverage from Guatemala to Panama’. Regarding the Salvadoran market, the executive said that ‘we started by buying a local operation and, today, we are establishing a very strong presence, with a coverage area that allows us to make the gradual expansion that we are carrying out. We enter directly with FTTH technology, which allows us to provide very high bandwidths. Our initial offer today starts at 40 MB, when the traditional operators were offering 5 megabytes in the local market, and our average target in El Salvador is 200 MB’.
‘The demand for broadband exploded last year as a result of the pandemic, and HFC services promote broader benefits and more integrated offers from TV and all the facilities to deliver more value. The satellite offer is somewhat more limited. It is a segment that needs access to a certain level of entertainment. We always try to deliver integrated value (both mobile and fixed) in the modalities that we are providing, and the advantage of being able to provide a prepaid service in markets like ours, where purchasing power is a very important variable, with which we can adapt to the money and the consumer’s pocket and let them know that they can have TV without having to subscribe, as the cable business does’, said Caraccioli, when expressing himself about the differences between Tigo’s cable and satellite offers in Honduras.
Jimenez defined Telecable as a ‘100% Costa Rican company, which democratizes pay TV and internet offers, with the aim of entering those areas where other operators did not enter, in which customers had the need to be connected. Throughout our 16 years, we have tried to differentiate ourselves in a closer service offer, based on being together with our clients’. The executive also stated that ‘this growing vision and commitment to leading the technological transformation in telecommunications services -both in the residential and business areas-, has given us great awareness that the environment is increasingly demanding and competitive . We have great competitors that we respect, and, therefore, we have taken on great challenges by investing in technologies that allow us to provide better experiences to users and become a great service provider that takes care of quality. As part of this expansion process, we began to build our entire network in FTTH from 2019’.
Regarding the main challenges faced by operators in Latin America -and Central America in particular- to adapt themselves to the new audiovisual consumption demands of their subscribers, Hahmann reported that ‘for more than 50 years, Irdeto has been working on developing new innovative solutions in terms of security and anti-piracy, to support operators in their ability to be flexible and test their operations with new business models, whether from product offerings or content types. From our conditional access solution for content distribution on STBs, or on OTT platforms with our multiDRM, we have a very efficient control to avoid content leakage and loss of income, so that operators can launch new OTT products, at the same time that the delivery of the content is guaranteed so that the income is not lost. We have been supporting our different clients worldwide and also in the region, to guarantee the launch of their new products efficiently ”.
When asked about the impact of the pandemic on audiovisual consumption habits, the growth of on-demand content consumption and his expectations in relation to this trend, Caraccioli reported that ‘the sectors that have most triggered this are telework and online education’. This way, the executive explained that, in Honduras, ‘our demand for residential internet grew by more than 90%. We are currently at around 37 thousand terabytes of consumption. We are aware of the technological robustness that we must keep for the volume, size and market leadership that we have. Thanks to this robustness, we are being able to face this unexpected and abrupt growth in traffic’. The executive also emphasized a strategic partnership with Amazon Prime Video, and explained that, in terms of Tigo’s digital transformation, ¿we have chosen to partner, understanding that we are important value aggregators for content owners. Thanks to Tigo Money and other projects, we have managed to better understand what that role is, in which we try to have the greatest contribution of value in the Honduran market’.
Jimenez has also expressed himself on the technological update projects that Telecable is implementing, both for the migration of its analogue to digital subscriber base; as well as the deployment of FTTH to replace the HFC base. ‘We are very happy with both projects. We will digitize our clients in the short term and give them a better programming and entertainment option’. Regarding the FTTH project, we started to build our entire network on this technology two years ago, and now we have the important challenge of starting to convert our entire network of HFC clients into FTTH. We started with this project in 2020, trying to get all our clients to switch to this network. We already have 111 districts in Costa Rica in FTTH, and we hope to migrate all our clients to FTTH in the next two years’.
‘Unfortunately, there is no good news about the scourge of piracy’, Hamann said when asked about the current dimension of this problem in Central America. ‘When sports broadcasts resumed after the various cancellations due to the pandemic, we have seen a nine-fold increase in terms of piracy on internet sites. On the other hand, the main search mode for this pirated content has been seen on illegal OTT and IPTV platforms. This is where the greatest growth of illegal content is’, he added in relation to the scourge.