5G technology advances in Latin America
The health crisis has had a multi-sectoral impact, causing a prolonged pause in global economic activity and the telecommunications sector, including the implementation of 5G networks in Latin America.
Although in the past months there has been a growing demand for the implementation of teleworking and tele-education as well as entertainment platforms, the lack of financial and macroeconomic clarity has also increased. This has led to a significant reduction in new investments in infrastructure, at least in the short and medium term.
Several countries, such as South Korea and New Zealand, took the lead in 2020, but in Latin America, the implementation of the 5G network has been different, and several media outlets are commenting on its future in the region.
Most Latin American countries have a long way to go in terms of installing and using 5G. Despite some testing, there is still time for this network to become widespread, says the company 5G Americas. According to the company, 30 tests in 12 countries were carried out during 2020, but only 4 networks of this type began operating, some of which are in Uruguay, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago. The majority of the tests proved to be effective mainly on smartphones but also in augmented reality and fixed-wireless broadband.
However, more than 10 tests and infrastructure bids were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Four countries plan to continue 5G implementation within the next 18 months: Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru.
In Mexico, the 5G deployment was in the testing phase before the beginning of the contingency, Telmex had already ceded a large part of its infrastructure to Telcel, AT&T was planning to invest 91 million dollars and Huawei was presenting its investment plan in the country regarding 5G.
Although everything was postponed due to the quarantine, preparations to bid for optimal frequencies will take place in the first quarter of 2021, reports the Federal Institute of Telecommunications.
After Mexico, the next countries to receive the new network would be Chile and Peru, assures the GSMA company, but while plans are being renewed locally, first world countries are competing for the Latin American region. Among these are the Chinese ZTE and Huawei, the Swedish Ericsson, the American Qualcomm, the Korean LG and Samsung, and the Finnish Nokia.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the 5G network will reach 8% of Latin Americans by 2025 because Internet use in the region is quite limited (only 54% of the population uses it regularly).
However, other companies such as 5G Americas and GSMA expect considerable growth from this network, the former estimating almost 3.5 million 5G connections in 2021, which will grow to 17 million in 2022 and 75 million in 2023. The second predicts 58 million connections by 2025.
The business of this technology will be strengthened when the region's mobile use grows in quantity and sophistication, assures Principal Global Advisory. Although the implementation of the 5G network has been delayed due to the coronavirus, this same crisis could be the cause of more investment in digital infrastructure due to the growing demand for telecommunications services in the Latin American region.
Several countries will have to postpone their processes in the deployment of this network, especially those where the economic situation is more pressing. However, it is important to take them up again to materialize the arrival of this technology because it will bring an important stimulus to the region as well as a revolution in different sectors.
Chile launched the first 5G tender
The Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera, informed that the bidding process for the spectrum for the development of 5G networks has started. With this announcement, which is made concrete with the publication of the bases, a step is taken for the digital development of the country, since a new standard is established in relation to the transmission speeds of mobile data, allowing an exponential leap in the technological advance of both the productive sectors and all citizens.
During the presentation of the contest rules, Piñera explained that, after two years of work, the first stage will be a technical evaluation of the capacity of those interested and then proceed to determine the best economic offer.
"In Chile, we are behind, we are not advancing with the speed that is required. We want to take a big step forward and incorporate Chile into the world of 5G technologies," he said at a public event.
Likewise, the President informed that the Public Contest will have the obligation to connect in a first stage to the regional and provincial capitals of the country, allowing all the inhabitants to receive the benefits of the new 5G network in an equitable way regardless of their location.
In addition, a public-private digital ecosystem will be created, which will enhance the application of Information Technology tools and contribute to reducing the digital gap that exists in Chile, with a long-term vision and articulated with both the public and private sectors.
In fact, in the first stage, it will be necessary to connect all the ministries, intendancies, and almost 200 hospitals located in different parts of the country. In addition, experimental 5G network permits will be granted to universities, which can be applied for their own use, public institutions, scientific centers, and companies.
The tender in question will create the conditions for at least four operators to compete in the development of new mobile technologies, ensuring that benefits such as better services and rates can be passed on to all telecommunications users. In turn, it will contribute 0.2% to GDP in direct investment in the first year and 0.5% after the entry of operation at the national level.
The Undersecretary of Telecommunications pointed out that "this contest will allow a qualitative leap in our networks, since 1,800 MHz will be made available to companies to invest in infrastructure, a figure four times greater than the 470 MHz that have been granted in the history of the sector.
Likewise, the companies will have the obligation to connect all the regional and provincial capitals of the country, allowing 5G to be deployed with territorial equity. In this line, we hope that the companies will realize the interest they have shown during this last time, by participating now in this contest".
Currently, the 4G network has more than 16 million users in Chile, who will benefit from the new spectrum. For its implementation, the Andean country will need to double the number of antennas deployed, from the current 30 thousand to nearly 60,000 "radiant" in total.
Piñera highlighted that the entry of 5G will join the efforts of a national fiber optic line and the underwater cable that the country is promoting to connect with Asia and Oceania, to promote the development of telecommunications and expand the access of Chilean citizens to services
The Chilean government reported that the investment will amount to between USD 2,650 million and 3,000 million in five years. "We want to take a big step forward and incorporate Chile into the world of 5G technologies," reiterated Piñera.