The time is now: CLT19 addresses the urgent need to accelerate the region’s digital transformation

More than 500 representatives from the digital ecosystem met in Córdoba, Argentina, for the 7th Latin American Telecommunications Congress, Latin America’s leading discussion forum on ICT public policy. For five days, at more than 20 activities, participants discussed key topics to drive regional development, including the need for regulatory neutrality, future jobs, and ways to boost internet usage in production.

At its debut in Argentina, the event brought together government officials and regulatory authorities from the host country, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, the United States and Uruguay. América Móvil, AT&T, Ericsson, Facebook, Huawei, Intel, Telefónica, Telecom were among the participating companies. The event also convened academics, consultants, ICANN, Internet Society and LACNIC, and representatives from international organisations including International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Organization of American States (OAS), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Connectivity is a bridge between what we are, and what we want to be,” said Andrés Ibarra, Deputy Chief of Cabinet, Argentina, and Government Secretary of Modernisation, during the opening of the plenary session. “To connect everyone and everything to a better future, digital development must be at the core of public policy agendas of countries across the region,” said Javier Piñeiro, Head of Latin America, GSMA. The other speakers at the opening were Silvina Rivero, Secretary General, Province of Córdoba; Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau; Santiago Rojas, Representative in Argentina, CAF –Development Bank of Latin America; Sebastián Bellagamba, Regional Bureau Director, Latin America and The Caribbean, ISOC; and Judith Mariscal, Executive Director, Latam Digital.

Read more about the opening session.

Ajit Pai: “If we stand together, we can rise together”

The Chair of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was one of the key figures of the congress. During his talk, Pai called for enhanced regional collaboration, guided by common interests. “CITEL and WRC-19 give us a great opportunity to work together for all the peoples of the Americas,” he said.

Pai also explained the three parts of the FCC 5G FAST Plan: freeing up more spectrum for the commercial marketplace, promoting wireless infrastructure deployment, and modernising regulations to promote more fibre deployment.

Watch Ajit Pai’s keynote.

The road to digital transformation: The private sector view

Another highlight of the plenary session was the high-level panel with Manuel Abelleyra, President of DIRECTV Latin America; Carlos Moltini, CEO, Telecom Argentina; and Federico Rava, President, Telefónica Argentina. Invited by Lucas Gallitto, Public Policy Director, GSMA Latin America, the executives shared their views on the experience of digital transformation inside their companies and across the region.

Our industry has the opportunity to participate in developing a new economy and put the region on a new international level,” said Rava. On the subject of paving the way for digital transformation, Abelleyra said we need to “keep encouraging the new generations of digital talent”. Moltini stressed the importance of dialogue between companies and government: “Public-private planning is vital in designing connectivity policy to meet consumer demand,” he said.

Watch the video of the high-level panel.

Countdown to WRC-19

Just months away from World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (28 October – 22 November, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt), the ITU spectrum management forum was held during CLT. “The most important aspect of initial 5G rollout in Latin America is the C-band,” said Luciana Camargos, Senior Director, Future Spectrum, GSMA, speaking on one of the panels.

Watch the video of the opening of the ITU forum and the panel ‘Planning for WRC-19’.

The importance of spectrum in digitalising economies

The success of a spectrum auction cannot be measured by the amount of revenue it brings in,” said Pau Castells, Director of Economic Analysis, GSMA, ahead of a new GSMA Intelligence report that will correlate spectrum prices with their consequences for consumers and companies.

Castells was part of the panel “The importance of spectrum in processes to digitalise economies”, formed by Pamela Gidi, Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Chile; Gabriel Solomon, Head of Government & Industry Relations, Ericsson Europe and Latin America; Sebastián Nieto Parra, Head of Unit, Latin America and Caribbean Desk, OECD; and Ana Valero, Director of Regulatory Affairs for Latin America, Telefónica. Lucas Gallitto, GSMA Latin America, moderated the panel.

There’s a lot of talk about the race for 5G, but what does winning 5G mean? If it’s about being among the first countries to auction spectrum, our approach lacks ambition. For me, winning means ensuring the entire ecosystem cares about the value creation and innovation that come from 5G,” said Gidi.

Watch the video of the panel.

Focus on IoT and security

What security challenges are specific to the world of IoT? What regulatory developments have occurred in this area? These questions were addressed during the GSMA Capacity Building workshop run by Alejandro Adamowicz, Technology Director, GSMA Latin America, and Stefano Nicoletti, Policy Director, Technology Policy, GSMA. Participants in the discussion included Martín Wessel, Technology Evolution Manager, Telecom Argentina; Emmanuel Jaffrot, CEO, WND Argentina; Sonia Agnese, Senior Analyst, OVUM; and Ricardo Pérez, Head of Convergence and New Technologies, ICT Secretariat, Argentina. Chaesub Lee, from the ITU, provided the organisation’s viewpoint.

Watch the video of the panel.

The event programme included other key activities such as the second meeting of the Digitalisation in Latin America Group, organised by the GSMA with the OECD Development Centre, ECLAC and the support of the OECD Emerging Markets Network. Also on the agenda were the workshop on Building Argentina’s Digital Agenda, led by Argentina’s Secretariat of Modernisation; CPR LATAM, the annual meeting of academics in the sector; and the 152nd Ordinary Meeting of the Board of COMTELCA.