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The state of 5G rollout in Latin America

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – The rollout of 5G networks in Latin America isn’t really in the spotlight right now. But you can bet your bottom dollar (or peso, or real, or whatever), its adoption is going to make a significant difference in our post-Covid world.

And according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report 2020, the first 5G networks to be deployed will be in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.

Why it’s a big deal: 5G networks provide the juice to truly take all the tech innovations we love to talk about (IoT-powered cities, autonomous vehicles, etc.) to the next level and basically achieving faster connectivity.

Though the juiciest bit is watching these telecom multinationals compete for coverage.

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5G in Latin America

Despite this 5G hoopla, its deployment within the region won’t be immediate. 

First and foremost, 4G adoption must continue. Ericsson’s report showed that in 2019, 49 percent of Latam was connected to this type of network. However, it predicts that 64 percent of mobile devices will be on the 4G network by 2025, and 18 percent will take up the next tier, 5G.

In the meantime, I’m keen to watch how global telecom companies duke it out to gain 5G turf in the region.

First off there’s Uruguay, the first Latam country to experiment 5G connectivity alongside Nokia in April of last year. In Peru, Huwaei is trying its hand and even carried out a few test drives last year. The same Chinese company was also spotted in Chile ready to splurge US$100 million in internet infrastructure.

In Mexico, AT&T is a clear favorite. Nonetheless, Huawei is still in the fight and plans to test its infrastructure alongside local phone operators sometime this year. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the government in Colombia to pilot test the 5G network with… once again Huawei.

Although I’ll admit Brazil’s recent 5G dilemma is a fascinating case.

The Bolsonaro government is being lobbied by advocates for Huawei (China) as well as backers of Ericsson (Sweden) and Nokia (Finland) to choose one of them.

Undoubtedly, Brazil is the biggest regional prize for these companies to snag up. But considering the country’s current healthcare crisis, it’s unlikely the President will announce a decision anytime soon.

But then again… 2020 has taught us that anything is possible.

Related articles: Tech and startups from Mexico!

-ML

Mariana López
My topic darlings are startup management, edtech, and all-things pop culture. J Balvin is Latin America's best reggaetonero and I dare you to convince me otherwise.

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