3G Americas Workshop Focuses on Latin American Mobile Broadband

The Mobile Broadband for the Americas Workshop was held in Rio de Janeiro on April 26, sponsored by 3GPP and 3G Americas. Presentations may be downloaded.

A marketplace update provided facts about the Latin American market. At the end of 2009, Latin America had 509 million wireless users. Average ARPU is US $14. Data as a percentage of service revenues in Q3 2009 is 17% compared to 28% in the US. In December 2009, GSM-UMTS-HSPA had a 91% market share, up from 88% in December 2008.

A 3GPP Technology Standards Roadmap provided an overview of 3GPP and key 3GPP issues. It is a good snapshot of where 3GPP stands today.

Operators Vivo, Claro, and NTT DOCOMO presented their strategies for mobile broadband. The Vivo presentation is more market-oriented and is written in Portuguese. The Vivo and NTT DOCOMO presentations include more technical content. Vivo seems concerned about the backhaul-capacity issue.

Ericsson Brazil discussed HSPA evolution in terms of bit rate, latency, MIMO, and multicarrier; related RAN backhaul improvements were also addressed.

Deployment of mobile broadband was addressed. Nokia Siemens Networks discussed migrating from HSPA to HSPA+ and LTE, and noted it has 11 commercial LTE deals, six of which have been announced. Huawei discussed some of its products.

A presentation on spectrum policy by 3G Americas identified some Latin America issues. There is no spectrum for advanced mobile broadband services. Governments are promoting new entrants by using spectrum caps. There are high taxes for wireless services and equipment. Likely bands for 4G will be 2.5 GHz, 1.7/2.1 GHz and 700 MHz.

An analysis by 3G Americas shows that spectrum aggregation limits impose serious costs on existing providers, which are paid by consumers. In markets with constrained providers, consumers may pay twice as much for LTE if spectrum is limited to only 2×5 MHz as compared to 2×10 MHz, and four times as much as compared to 2×20 MHz.