Are New Technologies Fulfilling Their Promise for Latin America?

Guest comment in Latin America Advisor:
Mobile phone penetration has increased rapidly in Latin America from just over one for ten people in 2000, to seven for ten people in 2007. This has helped universalize access to voice services, playing a crucial role in increasing teledensity. However, as existing regulatory frameworks are being updated to take into account technology and market developments, emphasis in providing universal access to voice services will be shifting towards universalizing broadband access. High-speed access has a greater potential to impact business, health and education. It allows businesses to go online to engage in ecommerce, can support telemedicine and other health applications and provides students with faster access to the vast amount of information on the web. Countries such as Brazil are currently proposing this paradigm shift, with third generation (3G) mobile networks being considered instrumental in this task. 3G networks are capable of high-speeds comparable to fixed broadband such as ADSL and cable modem. In relation to other regions, Latin America has lagged in the availability of broadband mobile services. However, there has been an increase of 3G launches in the region. Millicom announced recently that 3G would be available on all of its regional networks before the end of 2008. Brazil auctioned 3G frequencies in December 2007. America Movil has launched 3G in over a dozen markets since 2007. If priced competitively, mobile broadband can increase competition for high-speed access, making it more affordable for homes and businesses. As more users get broadband access, this will have an impact on the business, health and education sectors.”

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