Thursday, October 4, 2018

ICT: The week in 10 stories – Regional

Jamaica approves tech park in Portmore – Jamaica

América Móvil to invest US$1bn in Dominican Rep in 3 years – CEO – Dominican R., Mexico

América Móvil touts US$250mn Puerto Rico investments – Regional

Argentine digital insurer finds its voice with bot – Regional

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ICT: The week in 10 stories – Regional


Telecom Argentina has doubled down on its previously announced US$5bn investment plan, but the investments will probably be made more slowly and could be extended into a four-year timeframe rather than three as initially expected, company CEO Carlos Montini was reported as saying by local press.


Latin American multilateral development bank CAF announced that it loaned US$50mn to Mexican telecommunications company Altán Redes, the operator of the Red Compartida wholesale wireless network, to help it deploy its services.


Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica could be looking to divest its Mexican and Central American operations as it looks to reduce its 43.6bn-euro (US$51bn) net financial debt, reported Spanish daily El Economista, citing sources close to the company.


After some 20 years of preparatory work, Uruguay activated a supercomputer with processing capacity superior to 10,000 traditional computers and capable of performing complex mathematical operations and data-processing very rapidly.


Peruvian telco Entel has said it will appeal against a fine imposed by antitrust regulator Indecopi for alleged “misleading advertising” regarding a campaign in which it promised the fastest internet speeds and free access to social networks, according to press reports.


Caribbean telco Digicel has extended the deadline to renegotiate US$3bn in debt with creditors from Friday, September 28 to October 19 after bondholders rejected the terms of the telco’s latest offer, according to reports.


The Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (Ectel), the telecoms association for five Caribbean nations, agreed to launch local number portability in those countries starting on November 19, according to a statement published in local media.


Paraguayan state-owned telecommunications operator Copaco has appointed Sante Vallese as its new president, reports Ultima Hora.


US health and wellness engagement platform is aiming to “democratize” healthcare in Latin America by leveraging mobile connectivity in a region where populations are spread out and residents may not always be able to access medical resources that are reactive and costly.


At least 37% of all banks in Latin America and the Caribbean were subject to successful cyberattacks last year and most of the region’s financial institutions (61%) spend less than 1% of their yearly Ebitda on digital security, according to a report from the Organization of American States (OAS).

Jamaica approves tech park in Portmore – Jamaica

The Jamaican government has approved the development of a 34-acre (138,000m2) technology park in Portmore, across the harbor from capital Kingston, according to a statement published by state-run Jamaica Information Service.

The Naggo Head Technology Park will be built over two years and is expected to host state-of-the-art communications and technology for business process outsourcing (BPO).

The project will be a joint venture between China Harbour Engineering Company and the island nation’s state-owned Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), part of the ministry of economic growth.

The project “should include a provision for the government to divest its equity through a public offering on the Jamaica Stock Exchange,” the statement added.

Investment promotion agency Jamaica Trade and Invest and on its website that the park is part of the government’s efforts to make the ICT sector a priority. “The park will be designated as a Special Economic Zone and will feature custom buildings, large-scale facilities for lease, and corporate design fit-outs, among other structures,” it said.

“The development of Phases 1 & 2 at Naggo Head is scheduled to provide a total of 750,000 square feet of space for ICT projects,” it added.

América Móvil to invest US$1bn in Dominican Rep in 3 years – CEO – Dominican R., Mexico

Mexican telecommunications giant América Móvil aims to invest more than US$1bn in the Dominican Republic during the next three years to prepare for the deployment of 5G connectivity and developments in the internet of things (IoT), according to a statement from the country’s office of the presidency.

The company’s investments reflect its success in the Dominican Republic, CEO Daniel Hajj (pictured) was reported as saying after a meeting with the President Danilo Medina.

The investments will go “to sustain that growth and prepare for the challenges of technological evolution toward 5G, as well as… new applications for the hyper-connectivity era and the Internet of Things,” Hajj said.

The figure, the equivalent of around US$330mn a year, represents a sizable chunk of América Móvil’s approximately US$8bn annual capex budget.

In its Q2 financial report, the company highlighted revenues of 11.9bn dominican pesos (US$238mn), growth of 5.5% year-on year, against a decline of 0.4% for the group as a whole in the same period. The company’s Ebitda margin in the country was 44.8% versus 28% at the corporate level.

América Móvil recently stated that it will be among the first companies to offer 5G connectivity.

América Móvil touts US$250mn Puerto Rico investments – Regional

Mexico’s América Móvil will end the year having invested over US$250mn in Puerto Rico’s ravaged telecommunications infrastructure and the firm plans to continue developing its network in the territory to handle growing data demand, the company’s CEO was reported as saying by local media.

During a meeting with Puerto Rico’s governor, Daniel Hajj said that the company has invested over US$2bn in the island since it entered the market over a decade ago.

“Telecommunications are the nervous system of this new era, where faster networks and coverage will bring economic and social benefits,” Hajj was quoted as saying by daily El Vocero. “We want Puerto Rico to benefit from this technological revolution,” he added.

Hajj recently announced investments of around US$1bn for América Móvil operations in neighboring Dominican Republic over the next three years.

Last year Puerto Rico was hit by devastating storms that left its telecommunications and power networks in tatters. Telecommunications companies have been investing heavily in restoring and upgrading their networks in the island of 3mn inhabitants.

The executive also announced continued, double-digit expansion of the firm’s tower network in the country, as well as upcoming tests of state-of-the-art 5G connectivity.

América Móvil’s Caribbean operations, which include Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, ended Q2 with revenues of US$472mn and 5.7mn wireless subscribers.

Argentine digital insurer finds its voice with bot – Regional

Argentina’s eColón has raised the bar in the regional insurtech stakes.

The country’s first digital insurer has upgraded its text-based virtual assistant, Julieta Bot: clients and prospective clients can now also interact with Julieta via voice.

With the launch, eColón becomes the first in the region to offer a voice-based bot capable of selling insurance, providing post-sale assistance and processing a claim.

The company, which began operating in October 2017, is an offshoot of local tech-focused insurance firm Colón Seguros. At its launch, eColón offered just motorbike insurance. Today it also offers home insurance and plans to expand its product range further.

The Julieta Bot upgrade announcement was made by eColón at industry event InsureTech Connect, held this week in Las Vegas, US.

Among the speakers was LatAm-focused Celent analyst Juan Mazzini.

“The new players are breaking the status quo, and that is not easy but it is the route,” Mazzini said. “Innovation comes from all angles: from the value proposition to the brand and logo, which in the bulk of cases now doesn’t even include the word ‘insurance’.”

McKinsey, in a report titled Insurance 2030 – The impact of AI on the future of insurance, said that the insurance industry is “on the verge of a seismic, tech-driven shift,” The authors cite four AI-related trends shaping insurance, with one of them being advances in cognitive technologies.

Indeed, interest in customer service-focused AI solutions in Latin America is strong, Alessandro Damasio, international sales director of Brazilian B2B technology firm Olos, told BNamericas, citing benefits in areas such as operating costs and uniformity of service.

Consumers in the region are ready for the likes of bots. “People don’t interact in the same way that they used to,” Damasio said. “It’s not just because of this new generation, as we’re used to hearing. People communicate differently. Just go to a restaurant, for example. You’ll see at least 80% of people have a mobile in their hands. They’re looking for information or communicating in different ways.”

As technology advances and firms work on providing frictionless self-service solutions, the focus should remain on the user experience, Damasio said.

“The idea is to lower operating costs so long as the experience of the end-client remains positive,” Damasio said.

Based in Brazil, the company is mainly focused on the outsourcing segment although it also works directly with the likes of banks. It has business partners in countries including Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Olos is also considering entering the US market next year.

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