Operators highlight digital inclusion challenges

Operators warn on digital inclusion challenges

13 MAY 2015

LIVE FROM MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA: While the mobile industry has a key role to play in driving digital inclusion in Latin America, the region presents a number of characteristics which need to be taken into consideration, executives from across the industry highlighted today.

Rodrigo Abreu, president and CEO of TIM Brasil, the country’s second largest operator, said that with the shift away from voice services to a wide range of internet propositions, “clear communication with users is a key need.”

“Digital inclusion depends on that,” he continued.

This sentiment was echoed by Jose Perdomo, CEO of Tigo Paraguay, who said of the currently unconnected: “This is a consumer that has to be better understood. They do not want to be a digital illiterate – they want to know how to use a smartphone. We have users who are excluded, and they need to be part of this.”

Juan Antonio Abellan, executive director of Telefonica Hispanoamerica North, noted the need to offer affordable service plans which encompass voice, data and SMS. “The plans we have offered need to evolve,” he observed.

With some Latin American markets having low per capita incomes, “we have to think in a different manner”, Juan Pablo Calvo, CEO of Nuevatel Bolivia, stated. “People want to buy telephone [services] day by day, not by month, because they don’t have that money. Digital inclusion has to find with ways to deal with this.”

But this alone is not enough, with device prices also a key consideration. Without the availability of low-cost smartphones, “it will be very difficult to get to the levels we need”, the Telefonica executive continued.

In the face of these challenges, there was also a clear view of the benefits that come from digital inclusion.

Fabio Coelho, president of Google Brazil, said that this will deliver “the democratisation of opportunities”, empowering previously disadvantaged parts of the community. “This will lead to a more competitive society.”

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Steve Costello

Steve works across all of Mobile World Live’s channels and played a lead role in the launch and ongoing success of our apps and devices services. He has been a journalist...More

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