Thursday, 18 March 2021

Suriname may be Small but it has all Gs, including 5G

 

Suriname is the smallest of the nations on the South American continent, with about 580,000 inhabitants. The only Dutch-speaking nation in South America, it has close affinities with the Caribbean, and is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

The state-owned incumbent telco, Telesur, is the only provider of fixed-line and fixed broadband services in Suriname. The country’s fixed-line infrastructure is reasonably reliable in the more populated coastal region, though poor in the interior. Telesur started building out a fibre network in Paramaribo in 2013, and in June 2018, the company started with the rollout of the National Broadband Project (TNBP), which was completed in 2019.

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, which has pushed up penetration figures although the number of subscribers has fallen in recent years as consumers have responded to economic pressures. The mobile market supports only two players: Telesur (trading as TeleG), and Digicel (part of Digicel Group, a significant operator across the Caribbean and Pacific regions). 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.

There are two mobile network operators in Suriname: Telesur (TeleG) and Digicel. 3G coverage is still labeled "4G" by Digicel and real 4G/LTE by Telesur available only in the population centers. There is almost no mobile reception in more remote and less densely populated parts of Suriname like the vast Sipaliwini District. One exception is Upper Suriname and Gran Rio where there is at least 2G coverage.

Telesur the state-owned operator in Suriname is currently running a 450 MHz CDMA (incompatible to GSM), 900 MHz and 1800 MHz GSM and a 2100 MHz 3G HSDPA network, the latter available only in Paramaribo and Commewijne. This Coverage Map is available. In 2016 real 4G/LTE started on 700 MHz and 1800 MHz (bands 3 and 28).

Telesur has launched a new range of ‘Big Data’ high-volume mobile data packages aimed at high-end 4G LTE and 5G device owners, as well as business customers using 5G modems. Telesur switched on its 5G network in downtown Paramaribo nearly a year ago, in December 2019, but has kept its 5G marketing low-key until this month, whilst it also implemented high speed LTE-A upgrades in selected areas in late-2019.

The operator’s commercial 5G network has been live in the nation’s capital of Paramaribo since December 2019, but Telesur has not heavily promoted this until recently as it was deploying LTE-A upgrades in strategic locations to complement the offering.

 

Digicel Suriname is part of the Digicel Group operating in 32 countries in Central-America and Asia-Pacific areas. They have been operating in Suriname since 2007. Besides being present in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz 2G bands, they operate on a "4G" labeled 3G-based HSPA+ network on 850 MHz covering major populated areas in Suriname and allowing speeds of up to 2 Mbps. 

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