The State of Spectrum in Latin America: Only 20% of 2015 ITU Target Allocation Met

Signals Telecom Consulting Reveals Shortfalls in Spectrum Allocations in New Report

Marketwired

BELLEVUE, WA--(Marketwired - Aug 20, 2013) - 4G Americas announced today the publication of Analysis of ITU Spectrum Recommendations in the Latin America Region: Understanding Spectrum Allocations and Utilization, which dissects the current status of spectrum available in 19 countries in Latin America compared to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recommendations to accommodate the surge in mobile network traffic by the year 2015. The report, available in both Spanish and English, was independently researched and authored by Jose Otero, a leading industry analyst in Latin America and founder of Signals Telecom Consulting. 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 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.

Other observations of the Latin America market include:

  • Mobile penetration in Latin America currently exceeds 100 percent, with some countries at 130 percent penetration

  • Spectrum licensing postponement has become detrimental to market development by limiting the inflow of investment and creating congestion on the spectrum auction schedule

  • Internet connectivity and fixed broadband penetration rates are low

  • A growing base of smartphone users with an average penetration of 14% by the end of Q1 2013

  • Most markets currently have HSPA/HSPA+ networks

  • As governments auction spectrum, LTE networks are launched; without allocation of spectrum, countries will remain behind global LTE deployments

  • Spectrum caps are in use in seven of the 19 countries analyzed in the report

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-Advanced) 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. Another report in 2011 presents new traffic forecasts up to 2015 and additional forecasts through 2020. It is anticipated that the future estimated total spectrum requirement will surpass the recommendation in the 2006 report.

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."

The report, Analysis of ITU Spectrum Recommendations in the Latin America Region: Understanding Spectrum Allocations and Utilization, is available for free download at: www.4gamericas.org.

About 4G Americas: Unifying the Americas through Mobile Broadband Technology
4G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. The organization's mission is to promote, facilitate and advocate for the deployment and adoption of the 3GPP family of technologies throughout the Americas. 4G Americas contributes to the successful commercial rollout of 3GPP mobile broadband technologies across the Americas and their place as the No. 1 technology family in the region. The organization aims to develop the expansive wireless ecosystem of networks, devices and applications enabled by GSM and its evolution to LTE. 4G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., with an office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Dallas. More information is available at www.4gamericas.org.

4G Americas' Board of Governors members include: Alcatel-Lucent, América Móvil, AT&T, BlackBerry, Cable & Wireless, Cisco, CommScope, Entel, Ericsson, Gemalto, HP, Mavenir, Nokia Solutions and Networks, Openwave Mobility, Powerwave, Qualcomm, Rogers, T-Mobile USA and Telefónica.

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