GSMA THRIVE LATIN AMERICA: Jorge Barrera, director of the communications industry at Colombia’s ICT Ministry, revealed nearly four dozen 5G pilot programmes are underway in the country, as operators seek to identify key use cases ahead of a planned spectrum auction in 2021.

In a keynote, Barrera (pictured, right) explained testing is focused on technologies related to enhanced mobile broadband, fixed wireless access and massive machine type communications.

He explained “we want to have a purpose of productivity for 5G, not a fashion purpose”, adding operators would not deploy the technology randomly just for the sake of saying “we already have” it.

“What we are aiming at with these pilot programmes is to….look for those niches where 5G has a solution for a specific problem”.

The trials are a precursor to a spectrum auction in H2 2021, he added.

At the same time, Barrera said the country is still focused on expanding 4G service in rural and other underserved areas, highlighting an initiative to broaden coverage to 954 locations in 2021 and 3,658 within five years.

This push is expected to connect 1 million citizens who currently do not have coverage.