LTC 18 – Day 2 – June 12th 2018, A call to bridge the digital divide; urging to incorporate ICT’s to productive processes

  • Debating demands for coverage and absence of taxing stimuli
  • Cuba progresses in its digitalization of its society

Varadero, Cuba. During the Plenary Session of the second day of the Latin American Telecommunication’s Congress CLT18, authorities and experts emphasized the importance of incorporating ICT’s to productive processes to generate the economic growth that Latin America needs. Policies to increase coverage of the telecommunications’ services were debated, although the absence of taxing credits as stimuli were questioned. Such would enable operators to reduce costs. Finally Cuba’s Communication Ministry provided unpublished data on the status of its connectivity and penetration of information technologies in the island, with 4.5 million cubans with Internet access.

Maimir Mesa Ramos, Cuba’s Communication Minister stated that in spite of the economic blockade, they are in the midst of updating their economic model to develop efficient productive models where ICT’s have a cross the board impact on the goods and services sectors. They are an important part of the 2030 development plan.

Pablo Bello, Executive Director of the Inter-American Association of Telecommunication Companies (ASIET) stated that telecommunications play a fundamental role in growth and progress, because full insertion of communications means opportunities for a better life, increases in social fabric cohesion, and because Latin America’s growth depends on integrating ICT’s to productive processes.

He emphasized that today there is no other economic policy challenge, which is more important than increasing Latin America’s productivity.

Mauricio Agudelo, a telecommunications expert at the Latin American Development Bank CAF, explained that Latin America and the Caribbean face development challenges in terms of having a digital ecosystem as a needed condition for growth and development of the productive apparatus. Thus, it is necessary to increase investment to the levels of developed countries..

OECD economies invest 50% more of their resources per capita to expand networks, while Latin America is at levels of emerging Asia.

Debates on: governments want more service coverage; operators ask for less tax burdens

While governments try to create universal coverage or become direct market players, operators request lowering costs for spectrum and lowering the tax burden to face the connectivity challenge.

One of the experiences that has drawn the most attention from industry is the Mexican case of “la Red Compartida”, where the government made a write-off for some 90% of the spectrum costs, in exchange for having the awarded operator (Altán Redes) provide coverage to 92.2 % of Mexicans.

José Juan Haro, director of LatAm public policies and wholesale business for Telefonica, stated that the case of “la Red Compartida” (The shared network) recognizes precisely what is key and needed to reduce the cost structure in service provisioning.

However, Edgar Olvera, sub-secretary of “Comunicaciones de México”, questioned if those spectrum discounts and tax reductions for operators would be  enough to drive the deployment of networks. This, because in the “la Red Compartida’s” case there were specific obligations in terms of coverage as per the very law and the concession title.

Mr. Haro insisted in pointing out that the ministers of finance in the region tax 50% more telecommunications than other industries. “Just like in the ‘la Red Compartida’s’ case, if we operators were to have the option of deciding to pay, not less, but rather the same taxes as others industries in exchange for contributing more on expanding service coverage, we would be the first in line”, he assured.

To this end, Mr. Olvera added that “it has not been possible to convince taxing authorities that the reduction (in taxes) will be seen in greater consumption, and what is decisive is that inventing no new taxes and lowering them will make demand flourish”.

On the other hand, Mr. Haro questioned also the income in taxes for selling, in tenders, spectrum is not invested in expanding services, or it is “used in replicating existing infrastructure of private operators as is the case of Peru’s  “la red dorsal”, which incorporates problems of economic sustainability in network deployment projects financed by governments, as is shown by Azteca Perú & by Azteca Colombia, which nobody uses.

Also, he emphasized that private operators are in a better position to expand telecom networks, as has been shown with more than 25 years of privatization of the industry in the region.

See the entire debate @   Mediatelecom.

Cuba executes its information technology plan 2030

The National Plan of Information technology for Society of the Cuban government is underway with 22 plans and two strategic deployment lines of technology infrastructure and producing content as well as digital services.

According to Etecsa’s data, the island’s telecom operator, in Cuba there are more than 4.5 million users with internet access.

According to Cuba’s Communication Ministry presentation at the Latin American Telecommunication’s Congress (LTC), demands that local Governments have their own technology usage, to coordinate with national decisions.

The plan concentrates on the software industry via specific policies, launching technology parks jointly with universities, and opening to foreign investment.

Wish to know more about Cuba’s data and their progress in information technology society? Query the entire information @ Mediatelecom.