The possibility of transmitting data in quantities and speeds never before seen is one of the main advantages that will provide the network 5G when they are operational. However, it is not the only thing. This technology promises a revolution greater with the Internet of Things, smart cities, appliances and devices fully connected. In the united States, operators are advancing gradually, as the recent launch of 5G in New York and other cities on the part of Verizon. But a different scenario is that of 5G in Latin America, where bureaucratic barriers and trade conflicts are delaying its adoption.
One of the major problems is that many countries still do not reach an ideal coverage of the 4G networks. For example, Argentina currently has a reach of 70 per cent, although at the end of 2019 expects to reach the 93 percent. In Colombia, meanwhile, 74 per cent of the lines are fourth-generation.
According to a report by the consulting firm GSMA Intelligence, Latin America newly could achieve an expansion of the networks 5G in 2025, when it could achieve a coverage close to 40 percent of the population, with approximately 62 million connections. However, there is optimism. Ignacio Contreras, Marketing director of Qualcomm, believes that, “while there may be differences with other regions, 5G is being adopted with greater speed than 4G. We see certain conditions which may encourage its adoption in Latin america more quickly”.
Beyond Uruguay, in April of 2019 became the first in the region in counting with a commercial network to 5G, in Digital Trends in English we review in what is the process in other countries.
Since 2017 is preparing the way for the implementation of the network 5G in Mexico, with evidence of Telcel, the same company that currently offers a network to which the called GigaRed 4.5 G. At the beginning of 2019, it was reported that AT&T would exploit a network 5G (in the band of 3.4 GHz) during six months in Mexico City. Are these two companies the first who will offer the service once the network is ready.
One of the most important aspects in the development of the network 5G in Mexico is that this is currently the only country that has released the spectrum of low band 600 MHz to 5G. According to the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT), the propagation characteristics of the aforementioned band facilitate that more territory can be covered with fewer base radio.
In terms of infrastructure, the deployment of the new network is based on the reuse of radiobases that is currently used for 4G and have the ability to migrate to 5G. The IFT has, in addition, referred to the necessary adjustments, such as reordering of the spectrum and the modifications to the use of frequencies to accommodate the uses of 5G and bid on these frequencies. The specific date of the start of the network will depend on each one of the companies. Telcel, through Daniel Hajj, director general, has identified 2020 as the year that will start this service
Although originally it was estimated that the network 5G will be available in Argentina in 2020, now estimates more optimistic, both private companies and the government itself, they speak of that only in the best of cases would come in 2021, although with all the security in 2022.
The process is led by the regulatory agency Ente Nacional Communications (Enacom), which should be put at the disposal of 5G at least 20 percent of the spectrum of middle band which in the past was for the satellite provider ARSAT. The country is also considering to release or reassign the spectra of mid band -3,300 3,600 Mhz— in addition to auction the band 1,427 to 1,517 MHz.
Another of the challenges that Argentina faces is in the area of infrastructure. You might need 40,000 thousand new antennas, that is, 200 percent more than the current number, to respond to the challenges of the arrival of 5G. But it also requires work on the modification of the restrictive local standards associated with possible damages to the health that cause this type of facilities.
With 70 percent coverage of 4G networks, the argentine companies feel the obligation to work on two fronts: increasing the current coverage, but also prepare for the arrival of the new technology. Personal, Telecom Argentina, has conducted a series of tests based on tennis matches with helmets of virtual reality. Movistar, which, together with Ericsson was the company in argentina in testing with technology 5G in 2017, today it has placed its focus on the expansion of the 4G network. Of course, in the meantime, has not taken steps to public in this area.
Given that one of the challenges for Colombia is to strengthen the 4G networks, is one of the countries that is advancing more slowly in the field of 5G. The government, through the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (Mintic), is preparing a plan about the bands of 5G, which is expected to be published just at the end of 2019.
The process has also faced some difficulties. In April 2019, was summoned to auction the spectrum, but are still lagging behind. As in Argentina, it also has problems in the installation of antennas to provide better coverage.
The authorities announced that in 2019 it would be pilot tests for the implementation of the technology of 5G, which will invite operators to submit proposals to decide how they are conducted. In parallel, and with the support of manufacturers such as Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson, the main operators of the country, such as Claro, Tigo and Telefónica Movistar, have conducted various tests.
It is estimated that 5G will be available in Colombia in 2022, but in bulk only in about five years.
Chile: before 2022
The chilean government announced in February 2019, a tender of the spectrum 5G, although it was subject to a public consultation. No date confirmed, it is likely that the start of the auction during the fourth quarter of the same year. The authorities have committed to that technology would be available before 2022.
Although Chile is one of the countries that has the greatest progress, the process has been marred by a trade war between the major carriers, then the authority to freeze part of the middle band (3,500 mhz) for the deployment of 5G. One of these companies, Movistar, took the case to a commercial court.
The authorities also awarded in 2019 permissions for experimental testing of the network 5G applied to the industry. Entel, another major local operators, together with Ericsson and the signature swiss-Swedish ABB held a demonstration in mining operations.
In terms of infrastructure, the country has proposed to double the 14,000 antennas for cell phone networks and mobile internet. In that sense, the agency in charge of the process has signed agreements with other public agencies to provide the necessary space, among whom there are more than 2,000 bus stops of buses.
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