Latin America’s mobile market is dominated by four multinational operators, which together account for about 75% of the region’s subscribers. This proportion has been stable for a number of years but is being slowly eroded as regulatory measures facilitate the entry of MVNOs. In part this has been made possible by regulators setting aside auctioned spectrum for new market entrants, and by auction rules which oblige licensees of some spectrum bands to host MVNOs.

Mexico’s América Móvil is the largest player in the region, operating in a large number of countries. The company also has a significant presence in the US via its MVNO Tracfone, and has made greater inroads into Europe where it has a presence in Austria and the Netherlands via its interest in the respective incumbent operators. These investments were intended as a launching pad for ventures elsewhere in the region, with varying success. América Móvil during 2015 expressed further interest in expanding into Eastern European markets, which are considered ripe for further development and more likely to return dividends on investments made.

The second largest operator in Latin America remains Telefónica, operating under the Movistar brand in all markets except Brazil, where it operates under the Vivo brand. Brazil is Telefónica’s key market in the region, where it has over 81 million mobile subscribers and generated revenue of some €7.6 billion in 2014.

In Mexico, a new regulatory regime was recently introduced aimed at curbing the dominance of América Móvil, which controls 70% of the wireless market and 80% of landlines. The operator is obliged to reduce its market share to below 50%, and to this end it has made moves to sell its local assets regionally. The process has made room for other operators both locally and from AT&T, which acquired Nextel Mexico in April 2015. During 2015 there were moves to facilitate access to services between the Mexico and the US, with Telcel having launched its Sin Fronteras Plan (No Borders Plan) under which customers can make calls from Mexico to the US charged as a local call. In the US, customers can use the minutes, SMS and data on their plans as if they were in Mexico, with no roaming charges.

For more information see – Latin America - Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs