LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA, BOGOTA: Executives from Telefonica, Claro Brasil and Colombian telecoms company ETB discussed the need for Latin America to keep pace with the rest of the world when deploying 5G technology.
In a panel session, ETB president Jorge Castellanos (pictured, far right) said the steam engine took 50 years to reach Colombia and 4G took nearly five years to arrive. 5G “must reach the hands of all Colombians” at the same time as other countries if it is to keep up with the fourth industrial revolution, he warned.
Luis Malvido, executive director at Telefonica Hispanoamerica (pictured, second from left), said governments see 5G as a chance for Latin America to join the digital revolution and be on par with more developed countries. But this will come with many challenges, as it will be even harder to go from 4G to 5G than it was to go from 3G to 4G.
Paulo Cesar Teixeira, CEO of Claro Brasil (pictured, second from right), said the operator deployed 4.5G and is modernising the network quickly with 2,000 new sites. Internet access via smartphones is already widespread and there is demand for more speed – which will require more investment.
He added 5G is a disruptive force which no one can escape and Brazil, despite economic difficulties, needs to find a way to keep up and “answer society’s demands” for faster connectivity, which will improve quality of life as well as empower businesses.
Castellanos said Colombia too is ready. The country’s population stands at 50 million and there are 60 million mobile devices. He noted this rate of penetration is higher than any utility in the country, but operators need to figure out how to keep this trend growing with continued investment.