ITW

ITW 2020: LATAM stakeholders call for infrastructure boost

18 June 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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Connectivity across the LATAM region requires investment and collaboration in order to meet future needs.

The conclusion was drawn during yesterday’s ITW panel Connectivity in Latam, which featured Carmine Sorrentino, EVP Americas region, Sparkle; Gloria Palavicini, deputy wholesale sales director at Neutral Networks; Andy Bax, COO of Seabourne Networks; and Gabriel Holgado, VP of sales at CenturyLink.

“Covid-19 has exposed the reality of connectivity in the developing countries. For example, in my country, in Mexico, only 40% of infrastructure demand is covered,” said Palavicini (pictured).

“We need 10 times more fibre and 10 times more towers [in Mexico] to meet the demand. In the last year, fibre optic construction increased 161% but only 27% of internet access is made via fibre,” she added.

In Mexico in particular, foreign direct investment (FDI) has been crucial to past infrastructure projects and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation predicted the US alone could channel US$13 billion into the country’s communications sector over the coming years.

“The challenge is to develop infrastructure to support [recent] increases: in the case of Mexico, [we have seen] 50% in voice of traffic, 30% in data traffic. All of this is generated by the new work model where people are working from home.

“We make a joke that what is driving digital transformation in companies is not the CEO or the CTO, but the Coronavirus,” she added.

Mexicio’s “shared network” – aka the Red Compartida – is expected to connect 92.2% of the population by 2024.

Noting a similar lack of investment elsewhere in the region, Bax said: “What we have seen is, broadly networks in Latin America, for ever such a long time now, have been underfunded from a capacity and reach basis.

“Yes we have huge subsea networks connecting the region and huge transport network, but in terms of capillary, reach and the ability to drive that traffic into what have now become critical parts of the country – where people live, not where they work in business parks and data centres – we have seen that even as a wholesale provider, over the last six months,”

Highlighting the need for a collaborative approach to the region’s infrastructure upgrades, Bax added: “There is too much protectionism around resources and networks. What we have shown in the last six months is that we can effectively and cooperatively deliver services where we need to in a quick time  

“If we can do it in this environment where we are all pressured in terms of equipment, travel, shipping, logistics, we should be able to do that every day of the week when we get back to whatever the normal might be,” he said.