LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA, MEXICO: Mats Granryd believes the value of the mobile industry is not just measured in economic and connectivity statistics, but in whether it also delivers the “mobile society”.

The GSMA director general’s keynote followed an address to the UN General Assembly earlier this week, highlighting the industry’s role in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The mobile society addresses challenges in the region,” he said of the industry’s role in Latin America.

We Care
He gave the example of the We Care programme, which provides voluntary collaboration among mobile operators in Latin American countries, working with local authorities on joint initiatives with a social agenda.

Granryd described the programme as “a unique example of self-regulation from national mobile operators willing to set aside competition” to pursue the greater good.

It covers handset theft, child protection, public safety, electronic waste recycling and preparedness for natural disasters.

The programme started in 2013 and has already reached 10 countries across the region. Aimed at social problems, We Care shows operators setting aside self-interest to target the bigger picture.

Also, in Mexico, operators have worked together on several initiatives for consumers over the past 18 months, including the GSMA IMEI Device Check, launched with regulator IFT. It attracted 1 million visits in its first year, after becoming available last May.

The We Care campaign is a means for operators to contribute to the SDGs.

The GSMA this week also launched the SDGs in Action app, together with the UN and Project Everyone, a non-profit organisation. The app is intended as a forum for industry, government and citizens to work together on achieving the SDGs.

The GSMA also launched its 2016 Mobile Industry Impact Report on SDGs. Latin America scored highly compared to the global average, although there is still “significant potential for improvement”.

While there is broad 2G and 3G coverage across Latin America, 4G coverage falls behind all other regions except Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, despite high coverage, penetration of voice and mobile broadband services at 68 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively, is low relative to developed economies.

An improvement could be made in Latin America, by making mobile services more affordable for low-income users, as well as pumping more investment into infrastructure.