|Who is the LatAm broadband king? – Regional For the third quarter in a row, Uruguay had the fastest average internet connection speed among the main Latin American economies, according to internet content delivery specialist Akamai.
In Akamai’s 4Q14 State of the Internet report, the country reached 5.9Mbps in average speed, up from 5.5Mbps in Q3. The assessment is based on connections made to Akamai’s Intelligent Platform during the period.
Overall, Uruguay was behind only Puerto Rico (8Mbps) and the Bahamas (6.6Mbps).
Chile was the most improved LatAm nation, growing 23% to 5Mbps. No country in the region posted an average connection speed decrease in Q4. Brazil grew the least, up 1.6% quarter-on-quarter.
Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Mexico are the LatAm nations with the highest share of broadband accesses above 10Mbps, though in all cases they represent less than 10% of the total. The vast majority of connections in the region range between 4-10Mbps.
In the Americas, the US had the highest average at 11.1Mbps, while Bolivia had the lowest at 1.2 Mbps. Uruguay recorded the continent’s highest average peak speed, at 63.3 Mbps, while Paraguay had the lowest at 10.1Mbps.
In mobile broadband, Venezuela continues to lead Latin America with an average of 6.3Mbps. The lowest was recorded in Argentina, at 1.3 Mbps.
The worldwide connection average reached 4.5Mbps, nearly flat from the previous quarter. South Korea leads the way with 22.2Mbps, and nearly 80% of its connections are above 10Mbps average, compared with a global average of 24%.
Roundup: Telefónica, QMC Telecom International, Facebook – Brazil, Puerto Rico
Telefónica has finalized the sale of its UK network O2 to Hutchison Whampoa for 10.25bn pounds (US$15.2bn).
The deal follows Telefónica’s US$12bn acquisition of German rival E-Plus last year and comes as the company gets set to acquire Brazilian carrier GVT for US$8.05bn.
In November, Telefónica sold its 2.5% stake in China Unicom for 6.6bn Hong Kong dollars (US$851mn). Telefónica stands to lower a net debt load that totaled 45.1bn euros (US$49.2bn) as of December.
QMC Telecom International, a Latin American build-to-suit wireless infrastructure provider has received 319mn reais (US$100mn) in a financing round from a group of investors led by Accel Partners.
Grupo Santo Domingo and Housatonic Partners also participated in the round. With the latest financing round, QMC has raised a total of US$172mn.
Founded in 2008 in Puerto Rico and with operations in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico (under the name Conex) QMC Telecom International develops and manages rooftop, macro sites and distributed antenna systems solutions.
Facebook has officially launched a nostalgia feature called On This Day – a feed of everything you posted on the social network on the same date in years past, as well as photos and posts you were tagged in.
Network sharing agreements to play role in FTTH expansion – Regional Fiber to the home (FTTH) advocacy group FTTH Council is aware of several Latin American operators discussing network-sharing to avoid duplicating infrastructure and to make their business case more affordable.
In this respect, operators can learn from the ongoing trend towards tower-sharing by mobile operators, said Héctor Moreno, chairman of the council’s regulatory committee in Latin America.
The council’s legislative affairs director Reinaldo Jeronymo points out that there are regulatory issues when renting to multiple operators simultaneously, as well as internal problems for an operator.
“The presence of private tower specialists gets around that – they can rent to anyone,” he told BNamericas, adding that it’s important that regulations enable such third parties, as well as sharing between operators if they so desire, as is the case in Brazil.
FTTH Council Latin America president Gilberto Guitarte praised Chile for moving forward with a law ordering construction firms to ensure that ducts in new housing projects and condominiums be shared by multiple service providers to allow residents a choice between providers and services.
Guitarte expects Chile’s upcoming duct-sharing decree to be very similar to laws in Spain and Colombia.
Chilean telecom regulator Subtel published a law to this effect in January, with a 90-day deadline for drafting the necessary regulations.
Subtel head Pedro Huichalaf said on March 18 that the regulations will define the kinds of construction projects applicable, as well as the exact specifications of the ducts required. There will be separate rules for existing and future projects.
FTTH Council urges operators to bite the fiber bullet – Regional Operators that continue to invest in their copper or HFC fixed line infrastructure are “prolonging the agony” because the move to fiber to the home (FTTH) is inevitable in the long-run, according the FTTH Council.
Gilberto Guitarte, president of the FTTH Council’s Latin American chapter, recognized that many operators are answerable to their shareholders and have to respect quarterly budgets, which often means they can only stretch to extending their fiber over a portion of the last mile. For the remaining section they therefore resort to copper-enhancing technologies like vectoring to upgrade bandwidth and speed.
However, Guitarte draws operators’ attention to the 2004 Bernstein Research analysis of the US Regional Bell companies, which concluded that incremental improvements over a number of years can cost six times as much, in the long run, as a 100% fiber rollout from the same starting point.
To be fair, speakers from Telefónica Chile and Telefônica Brasil, at the FTTH Council’s 2015 Latin America summit, confirmed that FTTH is their greatest priority in fixed line investment.
Telefónica Chile’s fixed access planning director, Jorge Letelier, noted that the operator now sells ADSL connectivity only in zones where there is no alternative. And whereas research firm IDATE found that overall sales of FTTH in Chile amount to only 2.7% of homes passed, Letelier revealed that Telefónica Chile has activated 32% of its installed GPON connections.
Furthermore, VDSL and GPON account for 31% of Telefónica’s fixed broadband infrastructure and 20% of fixed broadband clients.
SMART CITY AS A DRIVER
With all the current talk of 5G, 4K TV, IoT and smart cities, Guitarte pointed out that those concepts and the increased data consumption they imply are only feasible on a massive scale with fiber supporting them.
In smart city projects, a crucial feature is the need for each vertical or service to be able to interconnect with the other verticals and the central control center. To do that they all need to speak the same language, which means they must all operate over convergent IP fiber networks. “That is the fastest and most reliable way for getting information from A to B almost in real time,” Guitarte said.
One unfortunate aspect of the operators’ tendency to upgrade their legacy copper infrastructure is that they overlay new cabling on existing poles, and the old cabling is left dangling. This is hardly compatible with the environmental component of smart city projects, Guitarte pointed out.
He gave a nod to a recent decree in Ecuador ordering all cabling in Quito to be moved underground, and the El Barrio project in Panama City, where the government helped negotiate the use of the power company’s ducts and manholes.
“You need a strategic decision. For example, it could be part of a national budget spread over five or 10 years,” Guitarte said.