Latin American telecommunications at the crossroads of passive infrastructure sharing

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December 2022
Paper author(s): 
Raúl Katz
Angel Melguizo
Fernando Callorda
Ramiro Valencia
Infraestructure - Transport - Water

The development of the Latin American wireless industry over the past twenty years has been remarkable. Coverage of 3G and 4G is almost ubiquitous. Service quality, as measured by speed and latency, has also improved significantly in recent years. Accordingly, the gap that separates the region from the most advanced world economies has considerably reduced in the past decade. One of the factors that have been instrumental in propelling such progress is the ability of the industry to start promoting its ability and willingness to share infrastructure across operators while preserving competition. That said, the industry is still confronted with important challenges. Coverage gaps remain significant in rural areas, in key transportation highways, and even in some of parts of the biggest cities in the region. While 5G service has been officially launched in many countries and spectrum is becoming available in most countries, this technology remains a future possibility for most countries. While wireless broadband adoption is widespread, affordability is also a key factor limiting access for the base of the socio-demographic pyramid. Finally, while certain structural conditions, such as low ARPUs, still constrain the level of capital spending, the Latin American lag with respect to OECD countries in terms of capital investment remains a worrying factor considering the future development challenges. In this context, as stated by the International Telecommunication Union, passive infrastructure sharing is critical to address the wireless industry forward-looking capital spending challenges, and far less complex to agree upon than active sharing since it requires greater collaboration.


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