For this edition of Ask an Expert, Telrad spoke with our Regional Account Manager for Latin America, Angel Alvarado. As an industry veteran in the telecom business, we thought we would get his perspective on telecom trends in the Latin American region.
Latin America has the fastest-growing Internet population of all regions in the world, growing 12% over the past year, and reaching more than 147 million unique web visitors as of last March. With all this growth, I’ve noticed that some operators are more ambitious than others. Smaller players are focused on serving their niche markets, whereas others have large business plans to roll out services to a broader, mass market.
The growing web traffic from Latin America means more users and higher demand for connectivity, and fast connectivity at that. There’s a growing pressure on operators to provide competitive Internet services to a wider, broader market. Staying competitive is one of the biggest challenges operators are faced with – especially with the introduction of mobile services in the region. However, with so many regions still remaining under-served, especially those facing geographical infrastructure challenges, establishing fixed wireless services is still a growing need.
Q: How do Fixed Broadband Wireless Access solutions address changing operator needs?
Years ago, WiMAX was the right technology to address the needs of under-served markets in the region, from countries like Mexico down to Brazil. Today, the majority of operators that we work with share one thing in common: Fixed Broadband Wireless Access best met their connectivity requirements. Operators have amortized the cost of their networks over the years, some of which were upgraded from 802.16d to 802.16e. Wired infrastructure can be very expensive — and in some cases — practically impossible to deploy. Geographical complexities (e.g. dense jungle, mountains, rivers or lakes) make wireless the only option to serve these areas.
Q: How are operators addressing the trend toward LTE?
Every operator is concerned about moving to LTE while remaining competitive. Those that have had WiMAX networks are concerned about how to do this. What makes it complicated is the fact that they want to avoid disruption of their current services at all costs. Telrad has developed a strategy to support these operators. By introducing the dual mode WiMAX/LTE base stations, operators can continue to support and serve all of their existing customers (CPE equipiment) with no disruptions – while introducing the latest LTE-supported CPEs for new deployments.
Q: How long will this process take in LATAM?
Many operators in the LATAM region have already started on their LTE migration path. The amount of time it takes each operator will depend on the several factors including the size of their network. We believe that about 90% of the operators will be operating LTE networks within 24 months – which I realize is a bold statement. Regardless of the pace of this transition, it’s definitely an exciting time for the Latin American region! We’re working hard with many operators to make this happen quickly and efficiently.