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Dialogue between the government and operators is key to deployment of infrastructure in Latin America

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Mobile telecommunication services are regarded as fundamental pillars of social and economic development by different academic centers and international bodies. The Latin American market is also considered to be one rich in potential for telemedia services.

In order to extend the coverage and benefits of these services to the population, the effort and investment of operators in the network deployment infrastructure providing these services are required. Deployment of this infrastructure is regulated by different legislation in Latin American countries, which is often inconsistent and contradictory and leads to delays and restrictions at the time of expanding and building new networks for providing these services, as 4G Americas report Digital Adoption in Latin America: The Role of Infrastructure Deployment and Other Policies in the Region concludes.

The document, which examines the cases in several countries selected from Latin America, indicates that the present regulations for infrastructure construction in the region frequently consider, among other aspects, the caps on non ionizing emissions—following recommendations by the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the World Health Organization (WHO)—the potential impact on the urban environment, and the existence of different government procedures and authorities in that area.

At this point, it is worth pointing out that aside from national, state and provincial legislation, there is also territorial regulation set by municipalities. And in many cases in the region, municipal norms are inconsistent with provincial or national norms.

“One has to consider that the number of local administrative bodies, or municipalities, may range from one hundred to several thousands in Latin American countries, each one potentially with their own rules and different from the rest, generating high levels of bureaucracy which may even go to law, lead to increase for all involved players and delay in the deployment of new technologies,” stated José Otero, 4G Americas Director of Latin America and the Caribbean.

This setting is particularly adverse given the growing consumption of data driven by the so-called “digital revolution”, and the arrival of new technologies seeking to respond to this service demand, such as 4G LTE, the next generation, IMT-2020 or 5G, and the so-called small cells.

The paper suggests that the dialogue between governments and operators is fundamental in the search for best practices in infrastructure deployment built on consensus and the adoption of common rules, based on procedures defined clearly, precisely and standardized at national level. On top of that, application processing terms should be short, defined and include automatic approval (such as “positive administrative silence”).

Regarding the practices of shared use of infrastructure—for instance, towers where antennas and broadcasting equipment of two or more operators are installed—the paper suggests fostering voluntary agreements in reciprocal terms, favoring the will of the parties to establish them, within an environment of contractual freedom. Besides, it advises shared use of infrastructure to be within technical, economic, operating and legal feasibility, avoiding, whenever possible, the intervention of the State, whose efforts should be geared at preserving the infrastructure investment and promoting its expansion and penetration, in order to favor its reach to a larger part of the population.

“Digital adoption in Latin America may only be attained through joint public and private sector effort, within a State policy with a clear legal framework, which encourages investment and recognizes telecommunications as a main axis in the development of economy and society. One must not forget that services may only and solely be delivered where infrastructure is already in place,” indicated Otero.

The report, Digital Adoption in Latin America: The Role of Infrastructure Deployment and Other Policies in the Region by 4G Americas, may be downloaded here.

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