Empowering connectivity: Insights from Portuguese-speaking regulators

Read this blog in Portuguese here.

Led by the GSMA and ARCTEL, in the heart of the Ministerial Programme at MWC Barcelona 24, the roundtable “Encontro de Reguladores Lusófonos para a Conectividade Significativa” held discussions for Portuguese-speaking countries on spectrum, investment gaps, and data privacy. 

Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Portugal were represented at the roundtable, with telecommunications ministers and regulators, government data protection experts and treasury officials present. The meeting explored shared goals of telecoms innovation and the future of connectivity. 

Spectrum as the backbone of digital progress

The discussions were backed by an understanding that spectrum policies are the base on which nations build their digital futures. There was clear consensus that creating an investment-friendly environment is needed to leverage spectrum as an engine of economic growth.  

New emphasis was placed on the need for spectrum roadmaps to provide certainty for mobile operators to invest in renewal plans and new assignments. The significance of spectrum pricing was also emphasised, as well as the detrimental effects of high spectrum fees on coverage, speeds, adoption and the final price to the consumer. Innovative payment strategies, such as Brazil’s spectrum auction in 2021, showed the importance of incentivising network investments to support coverage and infrastructure expansion. 

Bridging the investment gap

During the high-level discussions, the gap between telecoms infrastructure investment capabilities and the economic requirements to support connectivity needs emerged as a pressing concern and participants underscored the importance of ensuring all nations have the opportunity to thrive in the digital age. Strategies aimed at narrowing this gap were explored, such as fostering collaboration between public and private sectors.  

Additionally, a fair contribution from companies that benefit most from the infrastructure built and operated by MNOs was considered as a method to alleviate the investment gap. Supportive and transparent mechanisms to help operators invest directly into digital infrastructures were felt to be beneficial to the government digital ambitions of each country present. 

Data privacy towards innovation

While working towards a more connected future, the importance of data privacy grows. In an era defined by expanded connectivity and digital transformation, safeguarding personal data has become paramount to preserving individual rights. Discussions at the roundtable underscored the need for robust regulatory frameworks that strike a delicate balance between innovation and privacy, empowering citizens to navigate the digital landscape with confidence and trust. By prioritising data privacy, the foundation for a more ethical, transparent, and secure digital ecosystem, where the rights of individuals are respected and protected, can be built. 

Inter-governmental cooperation 

During the discussions, the countries raised their unique views, bringing together a clear pathway towards innovation and progress. Together with the GSMA and ARCTEL, this important summit of the Portuguese-speaking world defined best-practice and fostered inter-governmental cooperation for the future of connectivity, defined by inclusivity, innovation, and boundless opportunities.