Opportunities and challenges for mobile broadband in Ecuador

‘Just as mobile voice brought universal access to voice communications, mobile broadband has the potential to provide global internet access,’ said Sebastian Cabello, Director of GSMA Latin America.

Supported by the Escuela Politecnica Nacional, the seminar attracted more than 120 attendees. Participants included representatives from government, mobile operator groups and academia, including Ruben Leon, Ecuador’s National Secretary of Telecommunications, and Fabián Jaramillo, from the Superintendency of Telecommunications.

Speaking on The Situation of Mobile Broadband in Latin America and Ecuador, Mr Cabello highlighted the extensive opportunities for services, products and applications in a ubiquitous mobile broadband world. ‘Mobile broadband impacts significantly on a country’s social and economic landscape, benefiting everything from productivity, innovation, employment and community development, to economic growth in general,’ said Mr Cabello.

‘Governments that are aiming to increase internet penetration and reduce the digital divide are focused on mobile broadband, as this will provide universal access to broadband and provide access faster than DSL broadband internet.’

The general consensus at the seminar was that there continues to be an unmet demand for internet services in Ecuador, and that spectrum availability would play a central role in ensuring the availability of a workable mobile broadband service.

In response, Mr Cabello emphasised the need for a schedule for spectrum allocation that is capable of achieving the development of mobile broadband in the region. José Ayala, Head of Technology, Ericsson Central America and Caribbean, also spoke at the conference about spectrum needs. ‘There needs to be greater capacity and spectrum for mobile telephony-the traffic generated by a smartphone is ten times greater than a regular phone and a mobile computer consumes 100 times more data,’ Mr Ayala said.

Data traffic is doubling every year and since 2006 the mobile operators have seen both subscriber numbers and traffic grow exponentially-supported by only the same spectrum allocation. With only 100MHz, Ecuador has the lowest spectrum allocated to mobile services in Latin America. The GSMA LA recommends the creation of a clear and predictable spectrum roadmap for licences. This will ensure a safe and secure long-term investment environment in which to establish mobile broadband services.

In addition to the benefits delivered by mobile broadband, an established roadmap will ensure Ecuador is best-placed to benefit from the manufacturing and infrastructure investments that will directly result from the spectrum allocation process, as identified in GSMA LA Study of Social and Economic Impact report.