Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly half the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala’s overall consumption.
The Internet penetration rate was 42% in 2017. Fixed-line teledensity is roughly 10 per 100 persons, whereas mobile-cellular teledensity is about 125 per 100 persons.
The poor state of fixed-line infrastructure has led to Guatemala having one of the lowest teledensities in the region. In many rural regions of the country there is no fixed-line access available, and so mobile services are adopted by necessity. Network upgrades, in both the fixed-line and mobile sectors, have largely been undertaken by the private sector. Private investment has been supported by government and regulatory efforts, resulting in a steady growth in the number of fixed lines which in turn has supported growth in the fixed broadband segment. In the mobile sector operator investments in LTE infrastructure have stimulated the take-up of mobile data services.
The agricultural sector in Guatemala accounts for 13.5% of GDP and 31% of the labor force; key agricultural exports include sugar, coffee, bananas, and vegetables. Guatemala is the top remittance recipient in Central America as a result of Guatemala’s large expatriate community in the US. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to two-thirds of the country’s exports and one-tenth of its GDP.
The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force in July 2006, spurring increased investment and diversification of exports, with the largest increases in ethanol and non-traditional agricultural exports. While CAFTA-DR has helped improve the investment climate, concerns over security, the lack of skilled workers, and poor infrastructure continue to hamper foreign direct investment. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 79%, with 40% of the indigenous population living in extreme poverty. Nearly one-half of Guatemala’s children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.
Telgua (Telecomunicaciones de Guatemala S.A.) was historically the incumbent company in the country, until Claro was introduced in Guatemala in 2006 as a rebranding of Telgua-owned PCS Digital and Alo de PCS. As of March 31, 2007, Claro in Guatemala had more than 5.2 million subscribers. Claro is an international subsidiary of Mexico-based América Móvil and it is the leading provider of integrated telecommunications services in Latin America. Outside of China, it is the fourth largest company in terms of wireless subscribers.