The allocation of “digital dividend” spectrum in the 700 MHz band for the deployment of mobile services could contribute almost $15 billion to the Latin American economy and would expand mobile broadband coverage to nearly 93% of the population, according to a study released by GSMA and AHCIET at the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) 11th Global Symposium for Regulators in Armenia, Colombia. The study was conducted by Telecom Advisory Services L.L.C.
The greatest challenge is that in many Latam countries the 700 MHz band is used by analog TV services, and the switchover from analog to digital TV across Latin America won’t be completed for a number of years. As a result of the transition from analog to digital TV, this spectrum could have significant capacity to allocate digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband technologies, such as HSPA and LTE.
Tom Phillips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer at the GSMA, believes that there is currently significant capacity available in the 700 MHz band ready to be utilized and urged governments across the region to allocate this spectrum for mobile broadband services and reap the social and economic benefits.
The survey noted that through the re-allocation of digital dividend spectrum, mobile broadband coverage could increase from 75% to approximately 95% of the population in Argentina; 75% to 95% in Brazil; 53% to 90% in Colombia; 39% to 94% in Mexico; and 65% to 89% in Peru. Pablo Bello, secretary general of AHCIET, added that it would expand the reach of the Internet to nearly 93% of people across the region and would help create many new business and employment opportunities.
The deployment of the 700 MHz spectrum band for mobile broadband across Latin America also delivers significant social and economic benefits. According to the study, the region would see an additional $3.1 billion in GDP growth, 5,540 jobs created and $2.6 billion in additional tax revenue than would be created through broadcasting services. It would also help generate a consumer surplus of $5.2 billion.
The total economic impact of licensing the digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband in Latin America, as well as the purchase of network infrastructure, support and commercial services, represents a gain of $3.5 billion compared to if the band remains reserved for broadcasting across the region. For the five major economies in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, the upside of allocating the digital dividend to mobile broadband is even more significant, contributing up to$11 billion, compared to just under$3 billion if the band is reserved for broadcasting.
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