Telecoms & IT

IT Can Be Achieved

Telecoms & IT

Domestically, the Dominican Chamber of ICT (CÁMARA TIC) fosters the sustainable growth of the republic’s technological backbone, while stimulating the competitiveness of the local ICT sector. Formed by sector players, […]

Domestically, the Dominican Chamber of ICT (CÁMARA TIC) fosters the sustainable growth of the republic’s technological backbone, while stimulating the competitiveness of the local ICT sector. Formed by sector players, it seeks to make sure that the sector maximizes its contribution to the national economy and at the public sector level, that the government’s eDominicana program turns plain sailing into brain sailing.


The Dominican Republic emerged from the global crisis rather strongly on growth of 3% in 2009, in stark contrast to the average 2% shrinkage of neighboring Caribbean economies. This breathing space enabled sustained investment in the national backbone for wireless broadband, on which all above-mentioned business opportunities are predicated.

Local Telecoms regulator INDOTEL declared that the Dominican Republic had attained a 100% teledensity as of March 2010 based on the 8,775,500 mobile phone lines and 987,586 landlines registered, which in tandem made up a teledensity ratio of 100.2%. Yet national access was patently uneven, giving rise to initiatives such as the opening of 1,000 broadband digital centers nationwide to narrow the digital divide, particularly in rural communities. World Bank funding has enabled the building of the national fiber-optic backbone. This drive also gave rise to the goal of “eDominicana,” namely steps to get both state and citizen online. The government’s primary ICT-related goal today is to advance local expertise and employment, the latter in large part accounted for by the call-center business providing near shore services.


The Internet Society’s report—Global Internet Report 2014­—indicates that the world is today approaching 3 billion internet users. Accordingly, for 2013 the Dominican Republic ranked 85th nation by internet penetration on 45.9%, fractionally above China (45.8%) and below Costa Rica (46%). Households with internet access rose to 12% from 8%, and mobile broadband subscriptions, also on a rising trend, registered at 8% from 5% in 2012 according to the World Economic Forum Global IT Report 2013. According to Reuters, as of July 2013 America Movil’s Claro held 51.2% of the wireless market compared to Orange’s 38.4%, 7.4% for Viva, and 3% for Tricom. Broadband penetration currently stands at just over 5%, while the number of internet users is around 4 million. In 2013, Claro introduced ClaroVideo, pioneering online video service in the country.

Meanwhile, resumed momentum from INDOTEL in selling-off frequencies, suspended since 2011—will boost local communications. In May 2014 it sold spectrum in the 1700-2100MHz and 941-960MHz bands to Orange Dominicana and Claro Dominican Republic, with revenue generated to in part fund the national shift to digital TV. The government has already begun handing out one million decoders to ease the transition.


For 2013 according to BuddeComm, while the Republic had just 5.1% broadband penetration and a fixed-line print of just 10.7%, SIM penetration was at 91.3%. The Dominican Republic’s mobile service providers are Claro República Dominicana, which operates the Claro brand and is a subsidiary of América Móvil, Trilogy International Partners, operating under the Viva brand, Telecable de Tricom, which operates the Tricom brand, and Orange Dominicana, a subsidiary of France Télécom. Price is a determining factor in selection of a mobile company. According to INDOTEL data, as of December 2013 of the 9.2 million mobile lines in the republic, the vast majority, at around 7.5 million were prepaid, while around 1.7 million were postpaid lines.

A benchmark of a competitive mobile market, number portability (NP) in the republic commenced at the end of September 2009, although the Free Trade Agreement signed between Dominican Republic, Central-America, and the United States (DR-CAFTA) in 2005, had stipulated NP between signatory nations. Yet the prevailing environment of price-oriented competition has dented average revenue per user (ARPU) over the years. Price competition, of course, is rarely sustainable, and also a curb on infrastructure investment. Duly, mobile phone subscription declined from 90% in 2012 to 87% in 2013, with consolidation ensuing. Mobile network operator Orange Dominicana, which launched the first LTE network in the Dominican Republic in mid-2012, providing peak data speeds of up to 100Mb/s, was a case in point. Late in 2013 Orange Group, having sunk approximately US$150 million into its local network, sold Orange Dominicana to Altice Group as part of a withdrawal from non-strategic markets. The latter also purchased integrated telecoms services provider Tricom Telecom.


The Dominican Republic has galvanized the private sector, universities and software entities into ClusterSoft, an NGO geared at promoting the Dominican Republic as the preferred near-shore IT outsourcing destination as a regional rival to the familiar Indian call center, today a staple of popular culture. The country’s IT sector revolves around software development and a vibrant market for near-shoring services. Over 60 resident call centers in the Dominican Republic make the business the fastest growing industry after tourism, and the republic the principle call center and business process outsourcing (BPO) hub of the Caribbean. Capital city Santo Domingo holds 78% of the contact center market. Figures from the Dominican Republic Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) puts the number of call center related jobs created at over 32,000 by 2012. The industry, however, anticipates this rising to 56,000 by 2016.

There is, of course, a social dimension to the call center industry, where centralized location is not essential so long as a local skilled workforce is at hand at locales beyond major urban areas. Companies like Laurus International provide a full array of domestic, near-shore, and off-shore call center and business process solutions. Company President & CEO Rudy A. Ganna explained to TBY that: “The general trend is people migrating from rural areas to capital or major cities. This is a problem in cities such as Santo Domingo, that are often not designed to accommodate the resulting level of density; in our case four million people. In response, we are trying to create call center jobs in rural areas, and this is why we chose San Juan.”

Providing technical support, acquisitions, and customer support, with: “Approximately 85% of our business [being] in those service verticals,” is United Nearshore Operations (UNO). Alluding to the educational knock-on effect of ICT, CEO Stuart Cranston told TBY that: “One of the initiatives we have been taking since 2006 is the English Emersion program, a joint mission of the Dominican call-center industry and the government… to train 100,000 young students in the English language. UNO has an English language university where 600 students graduating every semester. Approximately 40% of each graduating class decides to work for UNO.”

Also in the field, Erik Pérez Vega is the President of the Cluster of Contact Centers and Business Process Outsourcing of the Dominican Republic. He explained how: “The Center for Export and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD), and the Center For Competitiveness basically funded us to start up as a Cluster.” Harnessing business to education, the Cluster has 40 members, roughly 20 of which are call centers, “…and the rest industry-related suppliers, or industry-related supportive companies,” while “Universities such as Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) and Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) belong to the Cluster because we need educational support for our managers and supervisors, as well as at lower levels.”


On around 111,500 sqm of area for development, Parque Cibernético, established in 2000, is the Dominican Republic’s ICT vision made flesh. A free zone, it services IT and BPO firms, hosting many of the country’s call centers and BPO enterprises, as well as many of its 50 software developers, and also features a film school. It serves as an incubator for economically productive businesses that receive incentives relative to their anticipated contribution to the local economy.

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