Peña Nieto’s gift to AMLO

Political campaigns around the world have a similar seasoning regardless of the language, ideology or geography of the country in which the candidates hope to emerge triumphant from the electoral process: campaign promises. Although these are usually limited to superficial mentions of what should be done to improve the lives of citizens, the simple fact that some issues are mentioned serves to identify the priorities of the candidate.

If we focus on Mexico, the promises of the candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador before being elected president were collected in the “Program of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), Why We Fight.” This document stated directly and without any kind of euphemism, Morena’s intention to end corruption, promote the defense of human rights, fight for the sovereignty of Mexico and other things that sound nice, but unless there is a plan written action plan that can be implemented is of little use in the real world.

Nor is it that a government program promoted during a campaign is expected to stipulate point by point what actions the government will take. That, theoretically, happens once the candidate comes to power. In other words, the promise of the program related to telecommunications that says “MORENA fights to guarantee universal access to the Internet, as a citizen’s right,” should have been manifested in the first year of President López Obrador’s government with a concrete plan, self-sustaining and with a long-term vision.

At the end of the day, it must be a plan that aims to connect the most vulnerable localities in the country. Those where poverty abounds, citizens have low purchasing power, the basic services that the government has offered have much to improve and investment from private companies is quite limited.

Using the description that appears in the “Alternative Nation Project 2018 – 2024 Electoral Platform and Government Program” of Morena, the objective would be better services to the communities that have suffered from “the neoliberal governments (sic) [que] opted for a model of international competitiveness based on low wages to offset the costs of inputs (energy, telecommunications, intermediate inputs) and logistics and infrastructure (roads, ports, airports), as well as other costs related to regulatory obstacles, security and for the lack of a rule of law”.

These promises, by the way, the only ones that refer to the Internet or telecommunications, were accompanied by accusations against the three previous presidential administrations of their corruption and kidnapping of public institutions. Any reader of these two documents could infer that the lack of action and growth in issues such as the Internet and telecommunications is the fault of the nation’s executive branch. Likewise, the arrival of a chief executive who takes the reins of the country and aims to fix all the past errors that he has identified will serve to improve and democratize accessibility to telecommunications services by the segments with less purchasing power of the population.

However, with more than half of his term completed, the administration of President López Obrador has not shown that he is capable of fixing the shortcomings that he so easily criticized from the opposition. His approach to the world of telecommunications and information and communication technologies (ICT) has been plagued by errors and horrors. From the dismantling of the Undersecretary of Communications to the attempt to intervene in the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) and in the face of its failure, the stubborn non-confirmation of three commissioners. While previous governments were accused of having their government agencies kidnapped, given the inability to control an autonomous entity with constitutional status from the presidency, instead of supporting it to fulfill its legal mandate, resources are being taken away to hinder its work.

If the emphasis is to promote the Internet, the administration has collected mistakes. Perhaps the most aberrant has been the publication of its belated “National Digital Strategy 2021-2024 (EDN),” a totally cantflesque document that speaks more of morals and ethics than a strategy of connecting the unconnected.

Perhaps for this reason, when looking at the connectivity strategy of the current presidential administration of Mexico, the EDN goes unnoticed and immediate memories take one back to the times when it was clear that the ideas to promote the Internet were derived from ignorance and improvisation without precedents.

From a total ignorance in terms of the difference between requiring geographic coverage versus population coverage of retail services to the already abandoned idea of ​​forgetting wireless technologies to offer service and focusing only on the deployment of fiber optics. Perhaps the accounts were not closed and an approach where the structure that is proposed to offer services to rural communities seems to have adopted a hybrid infrastructure model that would be implemented by the CFE Internet para Todos and, as seen in recent days, by the wholesale network that also has the constitutional range to offer these services in the 700 MHz frequency.

Interestingly, the message from the administration of President López Obrador about the wholesale network does not surprise anyone, since for months he has equated the coverage goals of this public-private investment project with the connectivity goals of his government. A failure of all his initiatives is tacitly admitted and in order to rescue some type of achievement, it is sheltered in the contractual requirements that the wholesale operator’s administration has to comply with.

Apart from the financial or capitalization issues of the company that have been seen in almost all the Mexican media with business or finance sections, there are two very important elements that should be mentioned in relation to the wholesale network. The first is that there is a constitutional mandate for this company to exist and offer service. Ergo, the constitution does not care who controls the company, but that it exists and offers service. If it is done with a private partner that invests or the investment is assumed by the government, it is something for an interesting discussion, the important thing is that the mandate of the Magna Carta of the nation is fulfilled. The second detail is that, faced with the inability to develop a public policy of his own for the telecommunications sector, President López Obrador appropriates and endorses a project devised and emerged during the administration of his predecessor, President Enrique Peña Nieto. . Ironies of life.

The problem, from my perspective, is that the government continues without a specific objective. On the one hand, it is heard from the presidency that 45% of Mexicans do not have a decent Internet connection and that is why the government’s objective is to offer free service to public entities such as schools and hospitals.

I doubt very much that there are many people who oppose the latter, what is problematic is that the levels of investment required by a wholesale network like the one that exists in Mexico to complete its LTE Pro deployment and advance before 2028 towards 5G is accounted for in the billions of dollars. What is the long-term sustainability plan to be able to continue offering free Internet to these institutions? Apart from the Internet connection, what devices will be offered so that people in public entities can benefit from the Internet? What investment is being considered to train those who do not know how to use new technologies? What health and education applications will be offered to schools and hospitals? Will all the efforts also be offered in indigenous languages?

The questions are many, there is still the feeling that the appropriation of the existence of the wholesale network by the current administration of President López Obrador is an insufficient patch after more than three and a half years without public policy for telecommunications and ICT. I only hope that this gift received from the administration of President Peña Nieto serves to reduce the digital divide in the country. The only detail is that to achieve this, billions of dollars will be needed to meet the goals of having all Mexicans with the Internet.

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