We live in an atypical time where we find an over supply of specialized events on topics related to information and communication technologies (ICT). Although for many this can mean extreme fatigue, for the vast majority of the Latin American population it implies being able to have different access possibilities to listen to different specialists in the sector and learn from their research and experiences.

The past few days were no different and thanks to the digital world, experts from different regulatory entities in Latin America have been heard talking about the universalization of services, the digital transformation and the steps to follow when heading to the universe of promises that surrounds the 5G networks.

Of course, part of the conversations mention the same common places. As, for example, one of the advantages that digitization offers is the opportunity to converse simultaneously with people who are in different geographical locations through video calls. A phenomenon that seems so normal and mundane but just a couple of decades ago was almost unthinkable for those who did not work in large corporations.

It may sound cliché, but these words are very pertinent, especially when contextualized because these solutions, practically at zero cost beyond the Internet connection, opened a window of opportunities that are already being taken advantage of with telehealth, telework, tele-education and electronic government. It is precisely these initiatives that in turn drive the states to promote greater telecommunications coverage and greater facilities for the population to access these networks.

However, the same question always remains: how to bridge the digital divide? How to get to fulfill the wishes of connectivity? How to accelerate the so-called digital transformation? Perhaps the answers to these complex questions are provided to us as puzzle pieces by the various telecommunications regulators in Latin America.

In this way, the messages of the Colombian Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) of Colombia about the need to implement “smart regulation” should be carefully analyzed. ICT regulation must be given through hard data that is repeatedly analyzed by the authorities in order to make informed decisions.

It is not enough to want to make changes in the market, you have to be aware of the implications of these and look for the best formula to promote innovation. In this sense, Colombia has been the first country in the world to adapt the concept of the regulatory sandbox that arises in the United Kingdom in order to determine the most appropriate regulatory measures to serve the Fintech sector within a controlled environment.

The purpose is to promote innovation, to achieve this it is not enough to simply issue new regulatory standards, the necessary steps must be taken so that projects can be approved. In this sense, the regulatory sandbox promoted by the CRC after its launch received 23 original proposals in the different areas of interference from the Colombian regulator.

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I complement the words of the Colombian regulator from the Regulatory Unit of Communications Services (URSEC) of Uruguay, we receive a reminder of this short memory that sometimes we have: human being who must be at the center of any regulatory initiative that is approved. When it comes to connectivity, consider that the value generated by quality access is enhanced by the quality content that passes through that network.

Perhaps this regulatory anthropocentrism serves to find the origins of both public and private decisions that have led Uruguay to become one of the main exporters of software in Latin America and is positioned among the first in the world in the percentage of households passed with fiber optics, about 85%. The above without forgetting that Plan Ceibal that for better or for worse represented the resistance from digital pedagogy to the onslaught of COVID-19.

Another element recently heard, this time by the Chilean regulatory body, the Undersecretary of Telecommunications (Subtel) put aside the philosophical part to focus on concrete facts of its market. On the one hand, they mention the needs that arise as a result of a 5G auction that will lead Chilean mobile operators to deploy some 9,500 additional base stations in the coming years to be able to market services with this technology.

On the other hand, the importance of an initiative called Campus 5G that involves almost all Chilean universities was mentioned with the aim of seeking local solutions to local problems through sensors or applications that work with this new wireless generation. Technology must be embraced to make it local in its operation by creating new possibilities for exploitation.

From the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (INDOTEL) we have come to hear the need for shock therapy as a catalyst to begin a process of modernization of the regulatory framework of the ICT sector that allows the implementation of a series of public policies that seek to bring broadband connectivity to all Dominican municipalities, increase the amount of radioelectric spectrum for mobile service assigned to the different market operators and establish a dialogue between the different government agencies to establish the steps to follow to achieve the digitization objectives that the country has set for itself. as part of its 2030 Agenda.

Of course, the issue of administration and allocation of radio spectrum is not something simple as has been seen in Mexico, the only country where one of the main network operators decides to return all its radio spectrum licenses to the authorities due to the high costs it imposed for its use by the government. From the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT), something as true as it is distant for the Mexican digital ecosystem is heard in the events of the sector: “the spectrum should not be based on an economic issue, but on the well-being that derives from it” through of its use.

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The Mexican regulator warns that the collection models do not serve to boost the connectivity of the unconnected or to bring coverage to the most vulnerable areas, which are precisely those that most require investment, but are those with the lowest population density and characterized by low power acquisitive of its inhabitants.

The IFT’s position is not new, since Colombia through the approval in 2019 of the Modernization Law (L. 1978/19) that eliminated as a criterion the maximization of income for the treasury to replace it with that of maximizing social welfare. Something coherent, seek to reduce the digital divide and implement regulations that help to achieve this objective instead of taking a position where connectivity is discussed, but acting in favor of measures that ultimately increase the costs of users to access new technologies.

Perhaps it is prudent to recall the words of the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) of Brazil when explaining the scheme used during its spectrum auction to promote 5G services that gave priority to the deployment of infrastructure in localities that until now lacked the itself: “we must ensure that the money that comes out of the telecommunications sector is reinvested in the telecommunications sector.” An approach that makes sense if one considers how the country’s economic development plans give the Internet of Things a leading role as it is an essential element to increase the efficiency of the different vertical sectors of the economy.

Many voices, different accents and even language differences, but for a good understanding few words are enough. They will be expressed differently but the objective is the same: to have an intelligent regulation that places the human being as the epicenter of the Mass and that allows the deployment of new technologies, stimulates the local development of applications and focuses on stimulating coverage in areas which currently lack telecommunications services. This is achieved by emphasizing social welfare rather than the implementation of collection models, ensuring that the money generated by the government from the telecommunications sector is reinvested in the digital ecosystem. That is the way.


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