Trinidad and Tobago has a mobile penetration rate of more than 150%, among the highest in the region, as owning more than one mobile phone is standard practice in the country. The Telecommunications authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) acts as the main industry regulator, and provides some of the most reliable sector data in the region. Trinidad and Tobago has a mobile penetration rate of more than 150%, among the highest in the region, as owning more than one mobile phone is standard practice in the country. The Telecommunications authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) acts as the main industry regulator, and provides some of the most reliable sector data in the region.
The local telecommunications industry has seen remarkable growth over the last decade, essentially becoming one of the most dynamic sectors in the local economy. The trend was initially motivated by the Telecommunications Amendment Act 2004. Until that year, local company Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) had a virtual monopoly over the sector. The amendment liberalized most segments of the industry, and opened the way for new national and international service providers in landline, mobile services, internet and cable.
The market is currently seeing some interesting trends, with established providers diversifying into new services and non-traditional companies making moves into the sector. The Information Technologies industry is also showing signs of growth, even if local firms are slow to adopt IT solutions. Due to the energy-led growth in the country, there been little incentive to develop the Telecommunications and IT sectors. As a result local talent and software development capabilities remain underutilized.
There are currently four fixed line or landline providers and two mobile service providers. A sign of earlier times, the landline market is highly concentrated: TSTT holds 90 percent of the landline market. Its main rival, Flow, is now owned by Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC). In the mobile sector, the market share is evenly split between TSTT (Bmobile) and Digicel. There have been recent talks about adding a third mobile provider to end the duopoly, but some argue that regional experience shows that nations the size of Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica are better served with the current model. The TATT has also spoken of awarding two 4G licenses, which may create an imbalance were there to be a third market entrant. With eight different providers in the country, the internet segment is much more diversified, but here again TSTT is the clear market leader with a 60 percent share. The same can be said about the cable sector, where local and foreign companies are fighting for dominance.
The government of Trinidad and Tobago has been heavily involved in promoting the growth of the ICT industry through many of its official entities including InvesTT, which has highlighted the sector as one of its main investment targets. The government has implemented a number of official plans such as the ICT plan 2012-2016 SmarTT, supported by TTConnect, aimed at implementing a development agenda for the country and increasing national competitiveness. The government is also making a strong push for e-governance, best exemplified through the single electronic window project TTbizlink, a single, integrated platform where people can carry out a host of official transactions at the touch of a button.
However solid these foundations, challenges remain ahead. At present, there is intense competition in the Caribbean to become a regional hub in business process outsourcing, with countries like Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica investing to become call and data center strongholds. While Trinidad and Tobago has not been making arrangements conducive to the growth of the call center industry, the current economic slowdown may provide an opportunity for the sector to take off. The country already has an advantage in terms of infrastructure and quality of education. The lack of incentives for local SMEs and the inexistence of a startup culture has led to a brain drain in local IT talent, but there is no reason to believe that with the right public and private initiatives in place, the country will become a regional telecoms, IT and media giant.