Facebook and Telefónica team to tackle Latam digital divide

Facebook and Telefónica have announced a joint collaboration to tackle rural connectivity challenges in Latin America in order to reduce the “digital divide” in the region.

A report by the World Bank estimates that for every 10% boost in high-speed internet connections in a country, there is a corresponding 1.3% increase in GDP. Around four billion people globally do not have access to reliable internet services, the companies claimed.

The partnership between Telefónica and Facebook initially began with with projects in Peru – a country with more than 8 million unconnected or underconnected people – by combining innovative backhaul and access solutions to boost connectivity. These include solutions such as the deployment of OpenCellular, an open-source disaggregated wireless platform.

Aaron Bernstein, director of connectivity ecosystem programs at Facebook, said, “Our collaboration with Telefónica in Latin America is an important example of how we’re working to overcome barriers that prevent people from getting much-needed connectivity. 

“Ensuring that everyone in the world has reliable and affordable internet access is key to Facebook’s core mission of building global community and bringing the world closer together.”

Telefónica and Facebook said they will use lessons learned in Peru in both rural and peri-urban areas to expand the project across Latin America, helping to overcome challenges posed to connectivity by the varied terrain and harsh climate in the region.

In addition, both companies will use high-definition population density data sets combined with Telefónica’s business intelligence tools to improve network planning. The collaboration is part of Facebook’s wider Telecom Infra Project and was announced at the TIP Summit.

David Del Val, director of product innovation at Telefónica, said: “Telefónica’s mission is to create connections so people can enrich their lives and enable them to access a world of possibilities. This collaboration with Facebook and TIP is an example of how we can bring together technological, commercial and operational innovations to reduce the digital divide in remote and inaccessible areas of Latin America”

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