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Latin America has Gained Mobile Data Subs

According to Pyramid Research, in 2005 mobile data users in Latin America accounted for 19 percent of the mobile subscriber base, which is reasonable when compared to the global average of 23 percent.

What distinguishes Latin America from other regions is the low percentage of revenues generated from mobile data usage; in Western Europe they generate 16 percent of total mobile revenues while in Latin America they represent only 9 percent. Still, this is impressive when we consider that wireless data revenues are less than 11 percent of all wireless service revenues within the U.S. market (according to the CTIA).

While greater usage of mobile data applications is a developing trend in the region, users still prefer lower-end, cheaper services, such as SMS. SMS undeniably controls the mobile data market in Latin America; in 2005 SMS accounted for 79 percent of total mobile data revenues ($2.5 billion).

However, coupled with development of mobile technology and the availability of more advanced handsets, Latin American operators are beginning to aggressively develop and promote non-SMS mobile data to increase penetration within the region.

With operations in fourteen Latin American countries and a subscriber base of 100 million, America Móvil is the example for other players in the Latin American mobile market; what they do to advance non-SMS mobile data will dictate how smaller operators approach the same task.

Pyramid examined America Móvil’s major subsidiaries in the region, and have concluded that since a clear majority of America Móvil subscriptions are prepaid users (generally dominated by youth and customers with varied income), America Móvil has focused its non-SMS platforms toward appealing to this mass market.

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