Latin America Lagging in Mobile Broadband Spectrum Allocation
Latin American governments are allocating far less radio spectrum for mobile services than is recommended by the ITU, according to a report by 4G Americas.
The findings of the research show that only 20 percent of the ITU's target spectrum allocation for 2015 has been met overall in the Latin America region resulting in a tremendous shortfall of available spectrum.
"In the Americas region, more spectrum is needed without question," stated Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 4G Americas. "By 2015, most Latin American countries will be 50 percent below the ITU recommended spectrum allocation. With the increasing usage of data, multiple devices and sophisticated smartphones in consumers' hands, this poses a big challenge for operators and vendors to efficiently deliver services and for regulators to allocate and auction appropriate spectrum resources."
The repot says that most common characteristic of the Latin America mobile broadband marketplace is the need for more internationally harmonized spectrum throughout the region. It is critical that governments allocate more spectrum to achieve their national mobile broadband plans and to also reduce the digital gap that currently exists in Latin America. This solution will allow continued progress of technology evolution to serve society's growing demand.
Jose Otero, President of Signals Telecom Consulting, emphasized that, "Regulators throughout Latin America must continue to be diligent in understanding the importance of their citizens by bringing more spectrum to the market in order to propel economic growth and overall connectivity in their country." Otero continued, "In the rural and remote areas where no wired infrastructure is present, wireless technologies are the only viable alternative to offer broadband services to the population, reducing the digital divide."
The ITU published recommendations for the allocation of sufficient radio spectrum by country market to allow for the proper development of IMT-2000 (including HSPA and LTE) and IMT-Advanced (including LTE-A) technologies in 2006, to aid government authorities in their spectrum planning. An updated ITU study is currently being researched for publication in late 2014 or early 2015 and meanwhile the current report continues to offer guidance.
Using the ITU spectrum requirement of 1300 MHz of total spectrum that is recommended for 2015 as a benchmark, the Latin America regional situation can be summarized as follows:
- Brazil, Chile and Colombia approach 30 percent of the ITU recommendation
- Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay reach 20 percent of the ITU recommendation
- Remainder of countries range between 10 and 20 percent of the ITU recommendation
- Overall as a region, Latin America has allocated only 20 percent of the spectrum bandwidth recommended by the ITU
Rojas added, "Regulators have indeed made some progress over the years, but must move quickly from the 'interest' and 'planning' stages into the 'action' stage of auctioning more harmonized spectrum, particularly with the auction of the 700 MHz band which is a great possibility in the near future." He continued, "After migrating analog TV signals to digital format to liberate the commonly called 'digital dividend,' the main obstacle is guaranteeing that the newly allocated 700 MHz frequencies are free from interference and available in a timely manner."