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The importance of mobile networks in Central America

Nov 7, 2017

Mobile NetworksIn a world where mobile phones play an increasingly significant role in every aspect of our daily lives (whether for work purposes or recreation), cellular networks have to support an enormous amount of traffic to provide good service. Given its peculiarities, Central America is one of those areas where these networks are far more vital than in Europe or the USA.

While countries in Central America certainly boarded the cellular network train later than most, their growth has been phenomenal in comparison to regions with established infrastructures.

Traffic has quadrupled since 2010 and individual consumption is expected to rise from 1.2GB per month to 6 by 2021. This is the result of the increasing number of connected terminals and the consequential rise in data usage (per user). Moreover, internet access usage in Central American is mobile (and prepaid): currently for every 5 users who connect to Internet, 4 use mobiles and only one broadband.

Over the last six years, cellular network carriers in Latin American have invested more than USD 11,200 MN to acquire new spectrum. At present, the average spectrum per country is 319 MHz, 43% more than in 2012. Said growth is due to call tenders for 4G spectrum bands (AWS 1700—2100 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 700 MHz) throughout the region.

A significant feature of AWS broadband is the availability of two technological ecosystems: HSPA and LTE. These can be used in the vast majority of American countries, fostering economies of scale and bringing yet further economic prosperity to the region. The financial gain of licensing AWS broadband for mobile technology means an additional USD 53,000,000 in countries where it is not yet available.

It seems far more cost-effective for these countries to invest in mobile network technologies than in fixed networks. The outlay to open new cable trenches is high and, moreover, limited by complications due to lack of accesses and infrastructures. The alternative is to buy broadband from carriers who already have fiber. However, this does not guarantee good internet access. In short, it’s far easier to install strategically placed antennas throughout cities or countries to provide users with ample mobile coverage.

Increasing numbers of users access the Internet through their smartphones, according to the latest study conducted by StatCounter Global Stats (a company that studies web blogger behavior). Their study reveals that, for the first time in October, there are more connections through smartphone or tablets than PCs: 51.5% versus 48.7. While this figure is global, if we take it country by country, those with the highest internet usage (the UK and USA) continue to connect via desktops. Other places however, such as Central America, have recently been undergoing a major technological revolution, and their tendency to connect via phones or tablets is significantly higher: 75%.  In countries such as Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador, phones rather than PCs are used, resulting in major investments in mobile networks. Given the favorable current and future business possibilities, various local carriers have unfolded a purely mobile operation for these areas.

This is not only due to the widespread use of Smartphones (which make up for 70% of total usage), but also due to the fact that 80% of corporate cabled connections operate on rates of between 2 and 10 Mbps (while speeds reached by the new LTE/4G networks vary from 5 to 40 Mbps).

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that businesses are embracing a change in direction and leaning towards cellular network migration (or at least a combination of systems), as connection performance is far superior and makes financial sense.

With many years of strong commercial presence in Central and Latin America, Teldat has stirred up great interest in their Teldat-V and Teldat-M1 routers, which combine cellular and landline capabilities in a single device.


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