The future of the 5G network in Mexico
5G technology could operate next year in certain Mexican niches, such as the centers of major cities or stadiums, and within two or three years nationally, but regulators and operators must act quickly.
In the forum "From switch to 5G", organized by Ericsson in Mexico City, experts and national and international businessmen urged the Mexican government to get involved to benefit the connectivity of citizens and key industries for the country, such as automotive, tourism, mining and agriculture.
"Free up spectrum, so make bidding very fast. Put government guarantees to protect the investment of operators, because if the law changes can lose billions of dollars," said Efe Mischa Dohler, director of the Telecommunications Research Center at King's College London.
The 5G technology will be 10 times better than the 4G and also 10 times cheaper, explained Dohler, and said that this network will create "synchronized realities" and consolidate the "real-time", which will allow machinery to operate, direct constructions, perform surgeries and teach distance classes.
The British researcher perceives China, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom as the nations leading the development of the network, which may later be consolidated in Mexico.
"But there is no reason for it. If it comes later, it's mainly because I also think the regulator probably needs to adapt to the pace of innovation. Operators need to be ready to invest. New business models need to be tested," he said.
If Mexico is left behind, Dohler warned, the consequences could be the loss of regional economic leadership and effects on its credit ratings.
Therefore, he asked the government and the private sector not to be complacent in technological development, something that usually happens because of the country's proximity to the United States.
Industry and connectivity
Mexico and Brazil will be the Latin American nations most benefited by 5G for the development it will bring to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, said Efe Arun Bansal, Ericsson's president for Europe and Latin America.
The businessman asked the Mexican government incentives to invest in infrastructure, instead of applying high costs to operating licenses, which in Mexico account for 13% of revenues of operators, three times more than in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Meanwhile, only 65.8% of Mexicans are Internet users, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
"When people ask why Mexico doesn't have national coverage, that's part of the logic. If permit costs are in line with OECD countries, but you put a requirement for operators to cover 100% of Mexico's population, that will benefit society," she argued.
Bansal cited that every 10% increase in Internet penetration increases a country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.1%, highlighting the "important role" of government and regulators in creating an investor-friendly environment.
On the other hand, Marvin Nahmias, global director of Innovation and Information of Grupo Lala, mentioned that the regulation and Internet operators "are not prepared" for these new business models that the industry needs.
"I would tell you that we are ready; the one that is not ready is the industry of carriers (internet operators) where they can sell us at appropriate prices modems or give us access to data through microdata," he said.
The Mexican executive asked for an ecosystem with spectrum regulation, clear rules for permits and digital security, as well as incentives for innovation, which would also educate and improve human capital.
CAN MEXICO BUILD A 5G COVERAGE WITH THE 800 MHZ BAND?
Are the frequencies in the 800 Megahertz - recently returned by a commercial operator to the Mexican state - an opportunity to push Internet coverage and to create a foundation of 5G in rural communities, remote populations or in those economically depressed?
Specialists estimate that it will, given that 5G will not only be characterized by offering low latency that will take medicine and the automotive sector to another level; nor that it will be faster just to download movies in a few seconds, because the great promise of fifth-generation (5G) networks is to detonate businesses on the Internet of Things (IoT), invent new applications and above all, bring connectivity to everyone.
Leonardo Luciano de Maia is a technical manager at Brazil's National Telecommunications Institute and is also an academic specializing in this area, and at Inatel, where he works, they have begun to produce reports on how "low bands" or those that are located below a Gigahertz, in cases that are not used and also in those that are, can expand connectivity through different business models or non-profit for the disconnected areas of this nation.
In a country with more than eight million square kilometers of territory, Inatel's proposals regarding spectrum efficiency can work, but they could also be applied to the reality of Mexico because there the orography and purchasing power of people, among other factors, have also complicated commercial operators in their push for coverage of rural areas.
That is why the spectrum of free use and bands such as 800, 850 MHz and others considered with "better" nature for coverage, can support the plans of governments in the goal of connecting people, estimates Leonardo Luciano de Maia in the forum Furukawa Summit 2019.
"If we use a little rhetoric and ask ourselves what we use or what we need in the cell phone (...) They will say that we need less latency and much more speed. But that cannot be the most important thing in certain communities, as it can be in the most important population centers. In others, coverage is what is urgently needed: our giant Brazil still sins in coverage, because you leave urban centers and ten or fifteen kilometers away you no longer have a signal and maybe we are not the only ones like that. That's why coverage bands could be good frequencies for rural areas because they have the power to grow connectivity," said Luciano de Maia.
Invited by Furukawa Electric to tell his vision of 5G, Luciano de Maia argues that 5G and IoT can interlink in innovation and the creation of new businesses, but they are not the same; and he stresses that rural communities should not be thought of only as the countryside and agriculture, because people also live on the coast, the mountains or close to deserts and the creation of 5G applications for those areas should not be confined only to the agricultural sector. Creativity, he insists, is part of what will make 5G networks possible there.
In Mexico, the current federal government has promised to bring telephony and the Internet to all those remote or economically poor communities; it has also promised that recently one of the three big national operators of the mobile market decided to return to the State the frequencies it had in concession in the 800 MHz spectrum and as a result of a business strategy designed to migrate its users from 2G to 4G and to concentrate on capacity bands better used in urban centers, such as 2.5 GHz.
The Mexican government then has today, through the recently created state-owned CFE Telecomunicaciones and Internet for All, a single concession title for social use of national coverage, frequencies between 16 and 35 MHz of bandwidth in 800 MHz, depending on the region of the country, and operators of services from free use spectrum and also satellite operators on which it can rely to meet its goal of connecting Mexicans.
It has also designated an item of almost 56 million dollars, 1,095 million pesos so that the state can start operations in areas of zero coverage or in those where the networks are 3G technology and lower. This budget is scarce to meet the government's plans, but indicate a good intention to want to expand coverage.
"Of course money isn't enough. But it's a good sign, you have to start with something and you would expect it to maintain investments; and if it goes to where there are 3G networks or nothing, it's a very good thing".
"A possible idea could be that they start developing 5G for rural areas, using those low frequencies that can still go far with their coverage; some with more than 50 kilometers, which may have problems with mountains and others, but with those frequencies could be reached well, with an Internet of a certain quality comparable to cities. It would not be a responsive Internet, but access is the first thing they will be grateful for. That's the first objective and then plan what else with 5G you can do in those areas".
Occupying the regional pieces of the 800 MHz returned to the State is an alternative and it would be necessary to verify if these bands can be used in the future for these purposes or to enable their use for this purpose.
"The authority (government) has these possibilities and if it exploits its creativity, because that is also what 5G is about, it could get there with a set of 4G and 5G networks; it can combine its own plans with what may be feasible through the Shared Network (700 MHz) or look for small operators of the free spectrum, and/or local and satellite cablers; they should know very well the rural areas. In the plans, it sounds good and if it does, you will be able to say to the private ones 'I'm doing it and it's possible'. The 5G arrived making a lot of noise and that's because it's going to change our lives; how we communicate and it will create business opportunities and its promise is that now more people are going to connect".
Source: El Economista
MEXICO WILL PRESENT A FREQUENCY PLAN FOR 5G
According to Navarrete Torres, the intentions of the IFT are between reordering the spectrum from 3.3 to 3.6 GHz and "moving" the current three dealers of that band (Telmex / Axtel / AT&T) to the "highest" and create contiguous blocks of frequencies, wider and technically more apt to exploit them later in 5G.
Manufacturers, operators, analysts and civic organizations interested in the telecommunications industry will know before June a plan from the Federal Institute of Telecommunications that will detail the frequencies available and susceptible to be exploited in the fifth generation or 5G services and other related technologies.
If so, Mexico will become the first Latin American country to have a well-established roadmap on spectrum exploitation for 5G in bands, such as 3.4 GHz and millimeter frequencies ranging from 24 to 86. GHz, and then the industry will have greater certainty of where and in what terms to guide their investments in this area.
Only Europe and Asian nations have outlined more clearly and tendered and frequencies for this type of man-man or machine-machine communications.
"What we want to achieve is clarity of what we have available, what we must reorder and what works with this technology once it is standardized. Basically, to have a plan for the industry to know, for example, which bands we consider medium, low or high; for coverage or for capacity and why we propose them for what services. Basically, they will know what we have already told them, but now it will be in a serious document, on paper," said Alejandro Navarrete, head of the IFT Radioelectric Spectrum Unit, which this week holds ministerial meetings with its regulatory and industrial peers from America, Asia, and Europe related to this sector.
"To be clearer, it will be a route axis that will define our plans for the next few years and the industry will be clear about what we do. We believe it will be very important for the market (...) Yes, it will be like a guide for the next decade, because it will be a document of greater scope and scope for the following years and we hope to present it in a couple of months ".
While the full regulator knows and, where appropriate, approves this document, the Radioelectric Spectrum Unit continues the work to simultaneously tender the frequencies of 3.4 GHz and 600 MHz in 2020, the first in the process of reordering and the second one has already taken up by the State after the process of transition to digital television.
According to Navarrete Torres, the intentions of the IFT are between reordering the spectrum from 3.3 to 3.6 GHz and "moving" the current three dealers of that band (Telmex / Axtel / AT & T) to the "highest" and create contiguous blocks of frequencies, wider and technically more apt to exploit them later in 5G.
The 3.4 GHz band in Mexico goes from 3.3 to 4.2 Gigahertz and in other markets, it is identified as "3.3 GHz" or "3.5 GHz".
To date, the regulator has already defined that at least 300 Megahertz of these frequencies will be exploited in 5G services, including the 150 already owned by AT&T, Axtel, and Telmex and if it is in their interest to retain them.
At the same time, the IFT is also studying how to obtain a total of ten Gigahertz of bandwidth distributed between the millimeter spectrum that goes from 24.25 to 86 GHz and equally destine them to services of the fifth generation, after a "combination" with coverage bands such as 600 MHz.
"We have free spectrum in the 57 to 64 GHz; from 71 to 76 and from 81 to 86 GHz, "said Alejandro Navarrete. "We are thinking and listening to what is being done for 5G, according to what Europe and other advanced countries do. For now we seek to unify and get there about ten Gigahertz for wireless services and tender in 2020 the bands of 3.4 GHz and 600 MHz, because this year will finish standardizing 5G technology and there we will go ".