PARTNER CONTENT: Leading Peru operator Entel is set to invest US$150 million this year in sustainable network technology in an effort to close the connectivity gap in the country and provide the best possible customer experience.

In an interview at Huawei’s Win Win Live extended reality studio in Bangkok, Thailand, Entel Peru CEO Alexis Licci explained the operator’s objective is to have the best network in a competitive market.

“All the time we are aiming to give more gigas to the people, to let them have better connectivity,” he stated. “We are leading the tariff changes in the market, and we are very focused on the digitalisation of our customers via our CRM.”

Licci added that the operator’s advanced CRM systems enable both itself and its partners to bring innovative solutions to customers.

“We’re very passionate to bring all the infinite possibilities to people to change society, so we can try to connect people, bring in new opportunities, make prices go down, increase competition and offer better services to all Peruvians,” explained Licci.

“And we are trying to make a more competitive market. We are working very hard offering them new things. We are connected, we are very customer-centric, we are trying to make them happy with our service, and we are trying to look for fans, more than customers.”

In April 2022 Entel announced that its Peruvian telecoms business will receive the US$150 million investment, with US$77 million earmarked for mobile network upgrades, mainly to improve its 4G network in addition to the deployment of new 5G technology.

According to GSMA Intelligence, the operator had 9.7 million mobile connections as of the end of September 2022. More than half of that base (5.2 million) are enjoying high-speed 4G services.

Its 5G deployment is in the early days, with rollout starting last year in Lima, Arequipa, Chiclayo and Trujillo. But that doesn’t stop Licci from being excited by its potential.

“I am convinced that 5G could change the world,” he reflected. “It’s a huge step to digitalise everything. We think that cities will be more automated. It will be a good way to reduce emissions for public transportation and private transport, too. We will go in different ways, creating new opportunities and new technologies that will help people to live in a better way.”

He is also aware that 5G will require further investment, as well as new business models to ensure the operator generates a return on the significant network outlay.

“We have to find a way to monetise 5G. Because there will be more connectivity, there will be more services to the people, and there will be more automation in the companies and enterprises in many processes that will let us monetise 5G. We will be able to go with the technology and the internet to places where we are not going right now, and it will be a new world of possibilities. We are very happy to participate in the 5G industry. It’s one of the key points for our leadership in Peru to still grow.”

Connectivity gap
While Entel moves forward on faster 4G and 5G networks, it has not lost sight of the fact there remains a connectivity gap in the country. Work remains to be done in bringing coverage to those areas of Peru that until now have remained out of the reach of internet access.

To that end, Entel Peru is working on a number of initiatives designed to close the connectivity gap.

“In Peru, there are different kinds of technologies coming to all the people to bring internet. The problem is that not all the country has access to the internet,” explained Licci. “There are 12% of people who don’t have access of any kind to the internet. And in terms of houses with internet, in Lima only 60% of the population has access to fixed, wired internet, and in other regions of Peru, only 12% of the population has internet in their houses. So, for us, it’s very important to drive internet to all the population. Our purpose is to bring all the possibilities that technology brings to the people to transform society in a responsible way. So, we’re working hard to bring the internet to all the people of Peru in far places.”

Entel Peru is working with public and private sectors to plug this connectivity gap. Licci revealed the operator is working with the country’s Ministry of Telecommunications and investing some of its taxes into new remote deployments.

“In terms of going to far places, in July of last year we went with high-speed internet to the mountains of Piura, and they have, for the first time, access to high speed internet. We also went to the regions of Cusco and Huánuco; both places where they had no access of any kind of connectivity or Internet, and they are right now working, studying and enjoying the life as we are doing in Lima or other major capitals of the world.”

Entel Peru is also working with competitor Telefonica on an initiative called Internet para Todos (IpT). IpT Peru launched in May 2019 and aims to connect 100 million people across Latin America to mobile broadband services. Its initial deployments are targeted at connecting difficult to reach and sparsely populated areas of Peru.

Licci said the aim of IpT is to bring the internet to more than 1,500 communities, potentially connecting around 3.5 million people with 4G coverage in the coming years.

“Internet para Todos will let us go to places where there is no internet and bring it to people so they can use education, heath, and work services using these tools that will let them grow and make Peru a more developed country,” he stated.

This ambitious programme is complemented by the operator’s effort to become a more sustainable business. Many operators around the world have pledged to become “net zero” by 2050 and the Entel Peru boss agrees that his company has a responsibility to become as “green” as possible.

“One of the key things is energy consumption,” he noted. “We are trying all the time to find technologies that use less energy. That is very important for us. For example, we have some of our sites in very far places using solar energy to function. We are trying to recycle everything that we are not using and are even recycling handsets, but there are other opportunities too in terms of changing the batteries to use less consumption of energy and be more friendly with the ambient environment.”

Concluding, Licci cited Huawei as one company the operator is working closely with in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions.