The most recent data released by the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board shows a slight drop in active telephone lines — counting wireless and fixed services — in comparison to last year.
In November 2015, there were a little more than 3.9 million active lines, of which 3.1 million were mobile accounts, while 812,968 were fixed. When compared to December 2014, both segments show drops from the 3.2 million wireless and 823,527 wireless and fixed lines in use in Puerto Rico then.
While the out-migration trend hitting the island may be a factor in the drop, TRB Chair Javier Rúa-Jovet said the impact of people leaving is somewhat mitigated by the fact that wireless clients relocating to the U.S. mainland may opt to keep their numbers.
However, he said another kind of shift may be responsible for the year-over-year drop.
“The success of the digital revolution and connectivity implies, to some extent, migration of customers to Web-based telephony and free services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger,” he said. “Although the total number of telephone lines has remained relatively stable for some time, there has been an exponential explosion in IP addresses.”
The agency’s data also revealed that as of November 2015, Puerto Rico’s telecom sector employed 9,078 regular and temporary workers, down slightly from the 9,230 industry workers on record for December 2014.
The TRB’s report also revealed that in November 2015, more than 2.2 million active wireless accounts were post-paid, or under contract, while 960,693 were pre-paid by customers. Both segments showed drops year-over-year when compared to December 2014.
Unsurprisingly, the number of public payphones left on the island was cut by half to a mere 554 units still operating in November, versus the 1,177 still offering a dial tone during the same month in 2014. A decade ago, when the service was at its peak, there were more than 16,000 public phones in Puerto Rico.