During the GSMA Mobile 360 ° event that took place in Mexico City, Hugo Simg, Business Development Director for MediaTek in Latin America, spoke about the available technologies to reduce the digital divide in Latin America and other emerging markets.
An abridged version of Simg’s speech at the GSMA Mobile 360° follows
In general, between 15 and 20% of the population in Latin America does not have a mobile device and a similar percentage has a 2G telephone, so they do not have access to a true Internet experience.
Today, having a Smartphone is vital to access the Internet, because 80% of those who surf the Internet do so through their cell phones, and in many cases, it is their only device to do so.
Transition to 5G
Currently, most service providers in Latin America offer mobile service in many and varied technologies: 2G, 2.5G Edge, 3G, HSDPA, HSPA + and 4G LTE, and even some of them are already starting to perform 5G tests, while others are in the evaluation stage. Each technology that emerges offers advantages over the previous one in terms of speed, spectrum efficiency and service cost.
To have a 5G network, in addition to a large capital to invest, it is necessary to have spectrum bands available. Some operators have already defined an allocated space, others are waiting for some spectrum bidding and others are only evaluating and watching what others do, as they consider it a distant event.
If the objective is the democratization of technology, it is necessary to offer an accessible service to the most economically vulnerable people, so that they can have access to communication, entertainment, educational, productivity, and other applications.
And this is where LTE and VoLTE (voice over LTE) can play an important role, it has been proven that the cost per megabyte of data transmission is more than eight times cheaper than in 3G, for example.
Currently, 717 mobile operators in the world already offer commercial service in 4G technology, for mobile or fixed wireless access and almost 4 billion subscribers have LTE / 4G service, which represents approximately 47% of the total mobile subscribers.
Today, 253 operators in 113 countries are investing in voice over LTE and 184 operators have launched high definition voice service in 87 countries. More and more operators are following this path.
VoLTE, in addition to offering better spectrum efficiency and a better network occupation, connects calls more quickly, even under different scenarios when moving far from the base radio and the signal is decreasing, compared to a 3G call.
As we know, the lower the frequency, the signal propagation is better and consequently the greater the reach. However, in urban areas with higher subscriber density, VoLTE at 2600 MHz achieves better coverage than 1800 MHz.
The key, then, is to reallocate spectrum before reaching 5G and move the services of earlier generations to lower bands and thus have better coverage. This also allows offering lower prices for the mobile Internet and in this way help to close the digital divide.
For operators, it is exponentially more expensive to offer data and Internet in 2G networks than in 4G, so the value proposition is to migrate the largest number of users from 2G to 4G.
For this exists KaiOS, a light operating system based on Linux that allows a friendly solution, based on Web technology, optimized to use less amount of memory, with keyboard interface and screens of the order of 2.4 “.
Those devices, although simple and inexpensive, provide a rich experience, better than the current 2G phones, and allows the use of applications and content search, as well as having IMS services such as voice over LTE and voice over WiFi, as well as support for “push to talk”.
These devices are already a reality and in India already over 70 million units of them launched by the operator Reliance Jio. Telephones are very low cost and the commercial offer of data is available for the most vulnerable population.
Thanks to solutions like this, the operator will be able to make a better reassignment of its spectrum (which as we know has a high cost), it will be able to offer service to more subscribers in the same 2G bandwidth, as well as reduce its network’s operation and maintenance expenses, increase its income per user and thus be prepared for 5G.
For the subscriber, this means that he can acquire a device with access to data and internet at a lower price than a Smartphone, access data service packages, download applications, obtain a better quality of voice in high definition and have a very good coverage
With the use of these technologies, with a MediaTek solution available for 3G and 4G, we are sure that we can drastically close the digital divide, democratize technology and put knowledge and communication in the hands of a growing number of people that will benefit from being integrated into an increasingly interconnected world.