The Digital Dividend is the upper segment of the UHF band, 700 MHz—in the case of Latin America—traditionally allocated to broadcasting services in most of the countries. As a result of the transition from analogue to digital television, this band is being vacated and could be reassigned to mobile services, specifically mobile internet. This will allow the allocation of increased capacity to make it easier for mobile services to meet the data traffic growth and increased network coverage demands (both in suburban and rural areas and within homes and buildings.
Existing users must be removed from the 700 Mhz band before it is licensed. While in many countries in the region the use of the Digital Dividend is relatively low, many other countries still have analogue TV signals being broadcasted in this band. A study commissioned by GSMA in 2015 evaluated the current situation of the Digital Dividend in Peru, as the country approaches the upcoming auction. Among other key aspects, this study recommends that channel 51 not be used for broadcasting services to avoid potential interferences, that a definite schedule for clearing existing users be established and that the roles of each stakeholder and the government as the guarantor of this migration be defined in detail. For more information on the Coexistence study on Peru, click here
Allocating the Digital Dividend to mobile broadband would contribute between US$8.3 and $10.8 billion in the five countries studied in detail; in the rest of the region, this contribution would be between US$3.4 and $3.9 billion. Furthermore, mobile broadband coverage that in 2011 reached 75 per cent of the population in Argentina and Brazil, and an estimated 52 per cent and 65 per cent in Colombia and Peru respectively, could be increased to an average 92.7 per cent, thus contributing to closing the digital gap. Job creation, consumer surplus and contributions to the public coffers contributions are other aspects considered in this study. For more information, see the GSMA-ASIET “Economic Benefits of the Digital Dividend for Latin America ” Dr. Raúl L. Katz — Dr. Ernesto Flores-Roux.
More Spectrum for Mobile: Universalizing Internet Access
The ability to access the internet through mobile networks is the key to closing the digital gap in Latin America and connecting the 149 million people at the bottom of the socio-demographic pyramid. Throughout Latin America, monthly costs of smartphone basic data plans fell 52 per cent between 2010 and 2013, allowing access to a larger portion of the population. For more details, go to “Mobile Broadband at the Bottom of the Pyramid in Latin America” (Telecom Advisory Services LLC, 2013).
Several countries have already assigned the 700 band to mobile services: Panama, Jamaica, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina. New auctions are expected in 2016 and 2017 in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.