Trinidad and Tobago is buffered by considerable foreign reserves and a sovereign wealth fund that equals about one-and-a-half times the national budget, but the country is in a recession and the government faces the dual challenge of gas shortages and a low price environment. Economic diversification is a longstanding government talking point, and Trinidad and Tobago has much potential due to its stable, democratic government and its educated, English speaking workforce.
The Internet penetration rate was 69% in early 2017. Combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity over 190 telephones per 100 persons. Submarine cable systems provide connectivity to US and parts of the Caribbean and South America, as well as Intelsat satellite station.
There are several providers for each segment of the telecommunications market. Fixed Lines Telephone service is provided by TSTT and Cable & Wireless Communications operating as FLOW; cellular service is provided by TSTT (operating as bmobile) and Digicel whilst internet service is provided by TSTT, FLOW, Digicel, Green Dot and Lisa Communications.
Trinidad and Tobago relies on its energy sector for much of its economic activity, and has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America. Energy production and downstream industrial use dominate the economy. Oil and gas typically account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports but less than 5% of employment. Trinidad and Tobago is also home to one of the largest natural gas liquefaction facilities in the Western Hemisphere. Trinidad and Tobago produces about nine times more natural gas than crude oil on an energy equivalent basis with gas contributing about two-thirds of energy sector government revenue.
The country is also a regional financial center with a well-regulated and stable financial system. Other sectors the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has targeted for increased investment and projected growth include tourism, agriculture, information and communications technology, and shipping. Unfortunately, a host of other factors, including low labor productivity, inefficient government bureaucracy, and corruption, have hampered economic development.
Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (generally known as TSTT) is jointly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and Cable & Wireless. It was formed out of a merger of Telco (Trinidad and Tobago Telephone Company Limited) and Textel (Trinidad and Tobago External Telecommunications Company Limited). TSTT no longer holds a monopoly in fixed-line telephone services due to FLOW introducing a fixed-line service of their own, and their cellular monopoly was broken in June 2005 when licenses were granted to Digicel and Laqtel.