Suriname’s economic hardship impacting on telecoms sector.
The smallest nation on the South American continent, with just over 500,000 inhabitants, Suriname is also the only Dutch-speaking nation in South America, and it has closer affinities with the Caribbean than with its continental neighbours. In the wake of various socio/political problems, the country’s medium-term economic growth has collapsed, with the economy expected to have contracted by between 7% and 9% in 2016.
The state-owned incumbent telco Telesur is the exclusive provider of fixed-line and broadband services in Suriname. However, in the mobile sector the company faces effective competition from Digicel, which in 2016 acquired the only other operator in the sector, Uniqa.
Suriname’s fixed-line infrastructure is reasonably reliable in the more populated coastal region, though poor in the interior. Fixed teledensity and broadband penetration are slightly lower than average for Latin America and the Caribbean, while mobile penetration is significantly above the regional average and much higher than would be expected given the country’s relatively low GDP per capita.
Many Surinamese have up to three mobile lines with different providers, pushing penetration figures upward of 182%. The mobile market supports only two players: Telesur (trading as TeleG), and Digicel (part of Digicel Group, a significant operator across the Caribbean region). In early 2015 Digicel acquired the only other operator, Uniqa, which only had about 5,000 subscribers. In January 2017 Digicel signed a deal to host the MVNO Transatel, which operates in a number of markets across the Caribbean and Latin America.
Although other ISPs offer dial-up and webmail services, Telesur is the only provider of fixed broadband, primarily using DSL technology. The company since 2013 has built out a fibre network in pars of Paramaribo.
Market penetration rates in Suriname’s telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: Penetration
Fixed-line telephony: 15.56%
Fixed broadband: 10.6%
Mobile SIM (population): 182%
UTS sold to Digicel Group; Transatel enters the market as an MVNO on Digicel’s network; Telesur extends mobile broadband services; smartphones adoption facilitating success of Telesur’s Mobile Agent service, Telesur expands fibre network; report update includes recent market developments.