Movil’s local subsidiary, Claro, is going to receive US$76.6 million from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to local media reports.
Claro, which is being merged with local telecom firm Puerto Rico Telephone Company, has already grown into the island’s largest carrier, serving more than 1.6 million customers. Moreover, it controls the island’s largest fiber optics cable network.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement recently that the financial boost would help local residents “harness the benefits” that 5G promises.
Although a US territory, Puerto Rico’s telecom infrastructure is not comparable to America’s. Many cell towers in the country collapsed to the ground when hurricanes swept through the island three years ago. Adding salt to the wound was an earthquake that happened earlier this year.
Today, Puerto Rico lags well behind the mainland US states in terms of broadband penetration, with a lack of competition and high unemployment worsening the crisis.
Until a few years ago, Puerto Rico Telephone Company was almost a monopoly. Now things have changed. Today, there are more than five carriers fiercely competing to sign up new customers to their network.
The competition has become more intensive recently, particularly after Liberty Latin America agreed to acquire AT&T‘s operation on the island.