Thursday, March 15, 2018

Puerto Rico’s telecoms sector grows despite hurricane damage – Puerto Rico

Trump blocks Broadcom’s Qualcomm takeover bid on security concerns – Regional

WEF LatAm 2018: finding the next LatAm unicorns – Regional

WEF LatAm 2018 takes on the fake news threat – Regional

Brief: Nicaragua to test DTT in March – Nicaragua

Puerto Rico’s telecoms sector grows despite hurricane damage – Puerto Rico

Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane María last year, the Puerto Rican telecoms market saw significant growth, according to data from the island’s Telecoms Regulatory Board.

In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and María rampaged through the Caribbean, leaving a path of destruction through Puerto Rico, where María claimed close to 90% of cellphone towers and left the island without power for weeks.

Nevertheless, by the end of the year the number of fixed and mobile lines had grown 2.64% to 4.17mn, the report shows, compared to a 1.18% expansion in 2016.

The growth in the sector was spurred by an upsurge in wireless subscriptions. Wireless lines grew 4.2% during the year, as opposed to fixed lines, which declined 3.66%.

Internet subscriptions also saw a large jump, growing 17.5% to 3.37mn.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a US$954 million aid package to restore communications networks both in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Trump blocks Broadcom’s Qualcomm takeover bid on security concerns – Regional

The US government has blocked Broadcom’s US$117bn bid to take over California-based chipmaker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns.

In an executive order late Monday, President Donald Trump said there was “credible evidence” that, were the Singapore-based company to gain control over Qualcomm, it “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.”

The order came days after the US Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) expressed concern that the takeover could leave the US behind when it comes to mobile technology.

“Details of the security risk are likely around 5G cellular technology [where] Qualcomm, in our view, is well ahead of foreign and domestic competitors,” said Stifel analyst Kevin E. Cassidy in a report late Monday.

“Reduction in Qualcomm’s long-term technology competitiveness and influence in standard setting would significantly impact US national security,” CFIUS said in its recommendation against the takeover, citing investments in 5G from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei as a potential threat. Huawei has been unable to reach distribution agreements with major US carriers due to these security concerns

In December, the Trump administration also cited security concerns when signing into law a ban on Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab’s software, saying it was vulnerable to influence from the Kremlin.

WEF LatAm 2018: finding the next LatAm unicorns – Regional

Latin America has become a fertile ground for digital entrepreneurs and start-ups, with Santiago, Buenos Aires and São Paulo at the helm of this development.

A panel on the World Economic Forum on Latin America, being held this week in São Paulo, addressed the topic and debated how to foster a better environment for the development of these companies.

The session started with a question on how Brazil can create more home-grown unicorns. The country has seen several companies reach unicorn status, or firms valued at over US$1bn: 99, Totvs and B2W Digital. While Argentina has online travel company and ecommerce site MercadoLibre, among others. But what are the key factors needed for Latin America’s ‘unicorn’ breakthrough?

One of these factors is funding and financing, especially from a local ecosystem.

Most of these successful start-ups in Latin America all have in common the fact that they were started by entrepreneurs who were trained overseas, had good connections and had relatively easy access to capital, the majority of the panelists agreed on.

Also present at the panel, Salesforce COO for Latin America, Enrique Ortega, later spoke to BNamericas and presented a slightly different view.

In his opinion, capital has become more available and entrepreneur-friendly in the region. In other words, it doesn’t really matter whether the venture capital is homegrown, regional or from another continent.

Venture capital from abroad has more than doubled in Latin America since 2013. The number of venture capital deals in the region reached a record-high 197 in 2016, according to WEF.

Ortega said four things are necessary for entrepreneurs to flourish: an innovative idea, leveraging technology, a focus on product rather than on results, and government help (lighter regulation and less red tape).

Marco Crespo, president of startup Gympass, said money is important but companies should not target the next billion, and rather focus on solving problems faced by groups of regular people. “The larger the group and the better the product, the more successful the company will be,” he said.

Amiram Appelbaum, chief scientist and chairman of Israel Innovation Authority, said that any start-up infrastructure has to be global, because talent is everywhere. “As technology does not have frontiers, it is important that governments help technology to flourish.”

“It is possible to provide education through the internet today, via satellite, in remote villages in Amazonas and this is they the key to lowering socio-economic gaps in all Latin American countries,” he added.

WEF LatAm 2018 takes on the fake news threat – Regional

How can Latin America prepare for the forthcoming elections in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia amid the potential threat of online misinformation and fake news?

Balancing freedom of expression with the need to protect voters from being misled and manipulated by disinformation campaigns was one of the topics addressed by a panel at the World Economic Forum on Latin America taking place in São Paulo.

“What we are seeing in Latin America and the rest of the world is an industrial machine that feeds through the democratic processes and is having effects,” said David Alandete, managing editor at Spain’s El País newspaper.

Brazilian business and civic entrepreneur Leandro Machado said he believes democracies are at risk with the rise of populism and the spread of misinformation. He cited an MIT study saying that humans, not bots, spread false news more quickly.

Maria Cristina Frias, member of the board and columnist at Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo – which recently dropped its content from Facebook – puts the onus on voters to stay well informed. “There’s a distinction between fake news and distorted news, news that I just disagree with but which are not necessarily wrong.”

Argentine senator Esteban Bullrich highlighted that democracy is not just built every two years through elections, and urged voters to keep constant tabs on the actions of politicians. He praised the fact that many more people now are speaking out against fake news.


The fake news topic is on the agenda of regulators and officials in Latin America, especially as the electoral calendar looms.

In Brazil, the country’s top electoral court, TSE, together with an intelligence unit of Brazil’s federal police, is setting up a task force to curb fake news ahead of the October 7 vote. Officials are even reportedly considering legislation.

In Mexico, electoral institute INE signed an agreement with Facebook to combat fake news and foster civic participation ahead of the July vote.

Pamela San Martín, electoral counselor at the INE, said the mechanism to counter fake news will not consist of deleting dubious content. Instead, Facebook will counter fake news by publishing “precise, valid, and objective information.”

The 13th World Economic Forum on Latin America is gathering hundreds of representatives from the government, business and civil society of some 40 countries through Thursday.

Brief: Nicaragua to test DTT in March – Nicaragua

Nicaragua will run its first test of digital terrestrial television (DTT) on March 21, local daily El Nuevo Diario reported citing the country’s vice president Rosario Murillo.

The broadcast equipment for the test will be set up in El Crucero near capital Managua, with the test set be carried out via the country’s Canal 6 using the Japanese-Brazilian digital TV standard (ISDB-T).

Nicaragua decided in August 2015 to adopt ISDB-T, making it the 13th Latin American nation at the time to opt for the technology.

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