Report Highlights Economic Impact of AWS Spectrum for 4G Mobile Broadband in Latin America

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The GSMA has released findings of a new report which highlights the economic impact of allocating the AWS spectrum band (Advanced Wireless Services 1700 2100MHz) to 4G mobile services in the Americas.

Accelerated allocation of the band to 4G mobile services will be key for extending the region's existing 4G deployments and ensuring economies of scale and seamless connectivity across the region. The study reveals that the economic benefit of licensing the AWS band for mobile would equate to an additional US $53 billion in countries where it has not been entirely licensed yet, including Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.

"There were more than 234 million mobile broadband connections in Latin America as of March 2014, and this is forecast to grow by 30 per cent per annum over the next five years3. Unlocking this valuable AWS spectrum band for mobile will be vital for 4G network development in the region," said Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. "Access to this band will result in many advantages for Latin American individuals and businesses alike, by delivering high quality service, boosting jobs and productivity and ensuring universal availability of Internet services through mobile broadband."

While 12 countries in the Americas have already licensed part of or the full AWS spectrum band4, there are still significant economic benefits to be gained by a number of other markets that have yet to do so. These include Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, which have not yet decided to allocate new spectrum for 4G deployment; Argentina, which earlier this month announced the decision to license AWS spectrum; El Salvador, whose AWS spectrum auction is suspended; and Ecuador and Paraguay, which still have band segments vacant.

Total economic benefit of licensing the band in these countries will be worth over US $53 billion which equates to direct impact of almost US $30 billion from investments, the value chain dynamics of the mobile industry and growth in GDP and an indirect impact of US $23 billion benefiting other industry sectors and productivity.

Other major benefits including the creation of new jobs and increased opportunities for regional mobile app and content developers, as well as organisations in mHealth, mEducation and other vertical sectors as these industries become increasingly connected by mobile.

Country Direct Benefits (US$ million) Indirect Benefits (US$ million)
Argentina 14,569 9,913
Ecuador 6,294 5,882
El Salvador 1,716 1,495
Guatemala 3,152 2,810
Nicaragua 1,017 1,305
Panama 1,815 1,727
Paraguay 333 646

"The availability of this additional spectrum for mobile will have a direct impact on mobile users in the Americas," continued Phillips. "There will be more bandwidth for current 2G and 3G mobile subscribers, since heavy users will be migrated to the AWS band, and digital inclusion will be boosted across the region through new offers for consumers including those at the bottom of the pyramid."

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