Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cuba to launch m-banking services – Cuba

Etecsa extends residential internet to Santiago de Cuba – Cuba

Brief: ICE Costa Rica launching 4.5G – Costa Rica

Lenovo heats up Latin America smartphone market – Regional

Who should assess the impact of smart city developments? – Regional

Cuba to launch m-banking services – Cuba

After piloting a program for 20,000 users, Cuba will launch a mobile banking service next year.

Designed by state-run telco Etecsa and Banco Metropolitano, the service allows users to transfer money between accounts, pay utility and telephony bills, and check banking and card balances. An updated version will include a feature to pay taxes online, according to local media reports.

Subscribers must have a smartphone equipped with an Android operating system and a credit card account from Banco Metropolitano, Banco Popular de Ahorro, or Banco Crédito y Comercio.

According to Alberto Quiñones, director of ICT services at Cuba’s central bank, there are 3.8mn active credit cards on the island. Quiñones added that the goal is to reach 7mn issued credit cards, without specifying a deadline.

Cuba reported 4.3mn mobile phone lines and 4mn people with internet access in July.

Etecsa extends residential internet to Santiago de Cuba – Cuba

State-run telco Etecsa began commercializing residential internet in four districts of Santiago de Cuba city.

The areas where the service is available were chosen based on the availability of copper wire and ADSL technology, Tahimí Rodgríguez, head of Etecsa’s regional commercial division, said at a press conference. The telco estimates 821 potential clients.

The service is available starting at 15 Cuban convertible pesos (US$15) for 30 hours of navigation per month. The basic service offers download speeds of 1Mbps and upload speeds of 256Kbps.

Although Etecsa’s residential internet speeds have increased from the initial 256Kbps and 128Kbps, the service remains slow and expensive compared to other Latin American countries.

Etecsa also expects to close the year with 2,500 residential internet subscriptions in the Pinar de Río province and add 800 more contracts next year.

There were 600 residential internet subscribers in Cuba in mid-May with Etecsa aiming to reach 38,000 residential internet contracts by year-end.

Brief: ICE Costa Rica launching 4.5G – Costa Rica

Costa Rican state telco ICE, through its Kölbi brand, will launch a 4.5G network in January, through which it expects to double download and upload speeds to 200Mbps and 25Mbps, respectively.

ICE said that the move to 4.5G is an upgrade in preparation for a gradual move to 5G in 2020.

In a separate statement, ICE said that installation of 4G base stations in all the country’s provinces had increased by 180% (and 3G base stations by 30%) in the last two years, including 220km of highways.

Costa Rica has two other mobile network operators, Claro and Movistar.

Lenovo heats up Latin America smartphone market – Regional

Lenovo was one of the top gainers in Latin America’s highly competitive smartphone market through Q3 this year.

Through its Moto brand, Lenovo climbed to an 18.1% market share, compared to 11.8% in 3Q16, according to data from Gartner.

“Lenovo has revised its growth strategy under a new management team. Latin America seems to be showing some progress but globally, it’s still slow going for them,” Gartner Latin America analyst Tuong Nguyen told BNamericas.

Lenovo has been betting on aggressively priced phones with high-end specifications like the Moto C and E phones and their respective Plus versions that come with a bigger screen.

Samsung, meanwhile, remains king with a 35.7% share in Q3, slightly higher than the 34.3% from the year-ago quarter, while Huawei climbed to a 9.0% share from 7.0%, and Apple brought up the rear with 4.3% of the market, flat from a year earlier.

“Apple hasn’t shown any significant changes because they are tightly focused on the high-end market. I don’t expect to see any significant growth in its market share,” Nguyen added.

Huawei surpassed Apple in global smartphone sales for the first time in June this year to temporarily grab the number two spot after Samsung. In December it launched its Mate 10 waterproof phablet, which includes a Leica camera and a translation app based on artificial intelligence, plust the ability to connect to a PC to work.

Earlier in the year, Huawei unveiled the Kirin 970, a flagship system on a chip (SoC) that has built-in artificial intelligence computing capabilities. The AI platform runs on a Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which Huawei claims to deliver up to 25 times the performance of the 970 CPU with 50 times greater efficiency.

Although it still lacks a presence in Brazil, the Chinese multinational recently announced it will start selling its Honor brand smartphones in Mexico, Chile and Colombia in Q1. “Huawei’s strategy of offering a range of products from high to low-end has shown some benefit in LatAm, but the market continues to be extremely competitive, and no single vendor has gained or loss share for Huawei to further capitalize on this opportunity,” Nguyen said.

LG Electronics posted an 8.5% share, down from 9.6% in 3Q16. Beyond the top five, TCL and ZTE were down 1-2% year-on-year. “I think both have weaker brand appeal than vendors like Samsung and Lenovo, and more limited retail market coverage,” Nguyen said.

Who should assess the impact of smart city developments? – Regional

Smart city developments should be evaluated based on their tangible impact, and funding entities should be responsible for such assessments.

That is according to Francisco Lupiáñez (pictured), associate professor at the Open University of Catalonia, who published a study on the social impact of smart city developments for Latin American telecommunications organization Asiet.

The study concluded that smart city developments need an evaluation methodology that measures the projects’ impact on a city’s residents. “We reviewed the existing literature on impact evaluation and most published works consist of rankings that measure the concept of smart cities across the world, which is not clearly defined,” Lupiáñez told BNamericas.

The study listed six indicators of smart city developments according to their application based on parameters from the European Parliament. These are economy, governance, mobility, environment, people and living conditions.

However, Lupiáñez said these aren’t enough to measure actual results that impact quality of life.

For instance, the smart economy indicator takes into account the number of startups and patents in a given city. While some might argue that the number of patents reflects a city’s inclination towards the knowledge economy and thus provides a competitive advantage, Lupiañez said this does not necessarily impact the general population’s quality of life.

While the study seeks to open up a discussion on the metrics used in smart city developments, the question of who is responsible for measuring these developments remains.

According to Lupiáñez, the parties funding these projects should be in charge of measuring their impact.

“The funding entity, whether a public or private organisms, should be responsible for assessing the project’s impact because there is an opportunity cost in these initiatives. The funders should determine if their investments have an impact or if their resources are better spent elsewhere,” said Lupiáñez.

In the case of the public sector, smart city initiatives have an impact on the population. Even if private actors are involved, the projects’ have a public scope, according to Lupiáñez. Therefore, the authorities should also be involved in measuring the projects’ success and informing the population about their benefits.

The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CANTO and/or its members