About 158 million mobile broadband customers in Latin America have already been hooked up to high-speed HSPA networks and that number is likely to grow to 584 million by 2018, according to a new report from 4G Americas. LTE has been deployed on 25 networks in 12 countries in the region, the report says.
The wireless industry lobby group, which had recently expressed displeasure at the delay in allocation of radio spectrum for new LTE networks, said the advanced mobile broadband technologies were improving the education, healthcare and entertainment segments across the region.
Today there are about 99 commercial HSPA networks offering Internet connectivity in 43 countries, of which 69 networks have already been upgraded to HSPA. In remote parts of Latin America, where no wired infrastructure is present, wireless technologies are the only viable alternative to offer broadband services.
“It is important to recognize the distinct characteristics that make mobile networks unique and the many challenges faced by digital inclusion in the region to allow for internet connectivity,” stated Erasmo Rojas, 4G Americas’ Director of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The lobby group has urged the regulatory authorities to speed up allocation of spectrum and make sure that operators have the right coverage capacity to keep pace with the growing demand for mobile internet.
“Policy makers need to understand that mobile broadband has different technical elements. By developing appropriate regulatory and governmental policies, specifically in the Latin America region, massive access to internet and content will be enhanced even further, thus reducing the digital divide,” the report noted.
In a previous statement, the 4G Americas had stated that carriers in 19 countries were running low on airwaves, as the governments had been able to allocate just 20% of the spectrum required to cope with the surge in mobile network traffic.
Delivery of Internet access is only possible through the interconnection of countless networks, stated the lobby group, arguing that governments should not blame the operators for poor quality service.
“Imposing QoS on network operators could result in a net damage to customers, as it would reduce the potential for technology innovation and would harm competition,” Rojas added.