Although it hasn't seen the same broadband bonanza as its large cable counterparts to the north, Liberty Latin America is still racking up healthy broadband subscriber gains as the COVID-19 pandemic closes in on its region.
The big Latin America MSO, which spun off from parent Liberty Global two years ago, reported that it netted 49,400 new high-speed data subscribers in the first quarter, just a touch below the 50,100 new broadband subs it added a year earlier. The latest gains boosted its overall broadband sub base to close to 2.7 million, or about 35% of its nearly 7.6 million homes passed.
Those new high-speed data subs were pretty spread across the cableco's region, with only the Bahamas, still recovering from Hurricane Dorian, showing a net loss. The company's Chile and Jamaica systems led the way, with each picking up more than 10,000 broadband customers.
Largely as a result of the sub gains, Liberty Latin America's residential broadband Internet revenues climbed to $71 million in the winter quarter, up nearly 20% from $60.2 million in the year-ago period. Broadband now accounts for slightly over half of the company's residential subscription revenue.
Overall, Liberty Latin America posted $931 million in revenue for the first quarter, up 2% on a rebased revenue basis from a year ago. With broadband leading the way, the cableco added 60,000 new revenue-generating units (RGUs) across its sprawling region, down from 73,000 new RGUs a year earlier mainly because of fewer new video subs.
The provider is also off to a strong start with broadband in the second quarter, no doubt aided by lockdowns induced by the spread of the novel coronavirus. "We have had some of our highest broadband daily sales in the last 4-5 weeks in Puerto Rico and Chile," Liberty Latin America President and CEO Balan Nair noted in a special letter to shareholders accompanying the Q1 earnings release.
Similar to its North American and European counterparts, Liberty Latin America has been grappling with an unprecedented surge in traffic over both its wireline and wireless networks since the coronavirus storm gathered full force two months ago. Speaking on the company's Q1 earnings call this morning, Nair said his company has seen "double-digit percentage peak traffic increases in our mobile networks and roughly 40% increases in our fixed and subsea networks usage" since the beginning of March.
But Nair stressed that Liberty Latin America's networks are holding up well under the much heavier strain so far, with the help of "many of our key vendors" and "partners like Netflix and Google."
"This is not our first rodeo on dealing with a crisis," he wrote. "Like I said before, we are running this like a hurricane just hit us. But unlike a hurricane, we have nothing to rebuild at the end of
For more on Liberty Latin America's first quarter results, please have a look at our sister site, Light Reading.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading