“Connecting Latin America through Mobile Broadband”: open debate between government, regulators and operators

The Regional Seminar “Connecting Latin America through Mobile Broadband” was focused on public policy and regulations. It was carried out as part of the Ministerial Programme of the Mobile World Congress 2012 on February 29 in Barcelona, where representatives of government (ministers, heads of regulatory agencies) met with top executives from operators in Latin America.

When opening the seminar, the Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSMA, Tom Phillips, highlighted the importance of Latin America leading many of the innovations in the mobile industry and announced the upcoming opening of an office in Brazil to further expand the focus of GSMA in the region, already present in Chile and Argentina.

After that, the Director of GSMA Latin America, Sebastian Cabello, highlighted the key point in time that the region is living because in 2011 Mobile Broadband connections exceeded fixed technology and became the primary means by which Latin Americans have Internet access.

The opening session was led by Bernardo Lorenzo, President of the Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT) of Spain, who said: “We intend to enhance competition in the market, facilitating the investment of operators in update their 3G and LTE networks, and thus maximize the benefit to the consumer so that it has reasonable prices and modern services”.

Then, the Minister of Communications of Brazil, Paulo Bernardo, stressed the objective shared by all Latin American governments that the socio-economic benefits of Internet spread to the entire population through Mobile Broadband for which “is necessary to lower the price of connections “. In this regard, the Minister revealed the intention of removing operational obstacles that hinder the implementation of mobile infrastructure: “The World Cup will be the first global event in the region that will use 4G technology.”

During the Regional Seminar, it was presented the Latin America Mobile Observatory that offers the latest statistics and market developments (available to download from www.gsma.com/mo). Dr. Maria Molina, consultant of AT Kearney, stressed that the mobile industry in Latin America currently generates about $ 175 billion, or 3.6% of regional GDP.

After those presentations, it was carried out a panel about “Investment and Regulatory Challenges to maintain the growth of mobile broadband in Latin America”, which was attended by Jose Juan Haro, Regulatory Director of Telefónica Latin America, Mario Girasole, Chief Regulatory Officer of TIM Brazil, Gustavo Cantú, Corporate Vice President of Nextel Latin America, and Jose Quintero, Executive Director of Technology of Cable & Wireless Panama. The panel was moderated by Mariana Rodriguez Zani, Convergence Research Director, and it was discussed the regulatory framework and the market incentives necessary to further expand the mobile Internet penetration in the region.

The closing panel brought together key regional regulators: Mony De Swaan, President of COFETEL of México, Maximiliano Martinhão, Secretary of Communications of Brazil, Carlos Rebellón, Executive Director of the CRC of Colombia, and Domingo Tavárez Valdéz, Member of the board of INDOTEL of the Dominican Republic, who discussed about “Facilitators in the national ICT plans to boost mobile broadband.”