By Marc Lippe, Director, Worldwide Field and Corporate Marketing, InfoVista
While it is true that in the last decade the telecommunications sector in Latin America has grown enormously, opinion on whether the digital gap between emerging markets and developed regions like Europe is closing remains a topic up for discussion. Most recently an article by Patrick Nixon appeared in Business News Americas talking about this very issue. Nixon reported that according to Antonio Grande, head of technology for the Telefonica account with Nokia Siemens Network (NSN), countries like Chile and Brazil are not far behind their US and European counterparts in launching LTE. In fact, Grande predicts the arrival of LTE will bring opportunities for equipment suppliers to provide new solutions with increased data speeds and more spectral efficiency—with the belief that providing more services to users on their networks will mean more revenues.
My thoughts on this are somewhat divided. It is certain the arrival of LTE in these countries will bring new opportunities. Telefonica can readily form a pocket of technological advantage within Southern and Latin America due to its already established mobile experience in adjacent mature markets. Given the knowledge already gained, the company can certainly expedite the build out of LTE enabled networks in terms of equipment and bandwidth. But when it comes to truly closing the gap, there is definitely more to consider than data speeds and spectral efficiency.
As emerging markets rush to add additional services the focus may be more on the availability of services and not on what more mature markets have discovered—that, in the end, users are the most important factor in all of this. Mature users have had more exposure to latest generation applications and real-time services and are no longer in awe of new services. Rather, they expect them and have developed a thirst for quality earlier than their peers in developing markets. The introduction of LTE is certainly not a definitive statement that quality is present and at the right levels. If history is any indicator, in virtually all markets for telecoms it has been equipment deployment, configuration, and turn-up of bandwidth that precedes assurance and quality implementations.
Regardless of LTE availability in these emerging markets, the focus and investment in quality is still likely to lag mature markets. This will most certainly keep the digital gap in place at some level until the realization sets in that it’s the end-user’s experience with these services that really counts.
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