Imagine having 99.9% Internet availability anywhere in Costa Rica through a network with 1000 times more bandwidth and a speed 100 times faster than your current one.
Think of connectivity in your workplace as enabling the dynamic allocation of resources, which facilitates many tasks. In that same imaginary world, optimizing assets and buildings is possible through energy monitoring to reduce costs and promote sustainability. In your home, the Internet of Things would be an everyday occurrence through automated functions of your appliances and other devices.
Machines would also be responsible for easing organizational collaboration through improved communication tools. Thousands of people would use their mobile devices simultaneously at higher speeds and without interruptions (for instance, at their favorite concert or soccer game). Innovations such as telemedicine would enable remote healthcare, particularly in rural areas.
In this scenario, wireless internet access points could be installed, enabling connectivity everywhere, even to remote areas. It would also support smart cities with energy networks, security, autonomous vehicles, transportation, and efficient and automated water systems.
Although it sounds like something out of a futuristic movie or TV show, all of this will happen in Costa Rica. However, it depends on just one complex yet sophisticated component: 5G, and the country is still at an early stage of the implementation race.
5G: Three More Challenges for Running towards the Future
According to the Ericsson 2019 mobility report, only 11% of Latin America will have 5G available by 2025 and will continue to rely heavily, not only on 4G but on even more obsolete technologies (such as 2G and 3G). In contrast, in North America, 5G will account for 75% of mobile technologies, while 4G will account for 25%.
Costa Rica does not escape this reality. According to the Chamber of Infocommunication and Technology Association (Infocom, for its acronym in Spanish), it is estimated that it will be possible to launch services on this network by 2025. As a country, every day that takes us away from 5G is when we lose competitiveness and acceleration of our economy.
What Does It Take to Implement this Technology?
The first aspect is that of availability. The 5G network requires a highly sophisticated national architecture, which depends not only on a larger number of antennas but also on new antennas, differentiated from those used for 4G. The same goes for cabling. The most advanced cables we manufacture in Latin America assemble more optical fibers in a smaller diameter and have 8 to 10 times more fiber in the same kilometer of cable.
Another key challenge is the lack of awareness among consumers, who are the ones who will adopt and use the technology. The first step in this regard is for future users to understand the benefits of 5G now and all the new and unknown services they will have access to. This knowledge will enable them to make informed decisions, to invest in 5G-compatible devices on time, and, at the proper time, in the value of the data plans that will be available.
These challenges create action paths and agreements between public and private actors with the will and capabilities to overcome each barrier while joining forces to enhance all the opportunities that allow us to accelerate the pace, becoming pioneers in the race toward the 5G network in Latin America.
By: Marcelo de Araujo Andrade, Telecommunications Business Vice President, Prysmian Group Latin America.