GSMA Latin America calls for fairer sharing of comms development costs

GSMA Latin America calls for fairer sharing of comms development costs

There’s been a strong statement from GSMA Latin America, a regional division of industry association the GSMA, on the GSMA website, under the heading A Call to Action to Ensure the Development of the Internet and the Digital Future of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The statement highlights challenges faced in the region by mobile networks, such as fast-growing monthly consumption of mobile data, and millions of residents finding themselves offline due to gaps in usage and coverage. 

It adds: “These issues have known solutions that depend on public policies, such as the development of demand incentives, the reduction of tax burdens faced by the telecommunications industry, and the effective and efficient use of Universal Service Funds.”

It also highlights the need for “significant investments” to deploy new technologies but, it says, it is not evident that the necessary resources to address these investments can be generated solely by the telecommunications industry. New schemes involving all stakeholders are required to ensure them, the statement says.

This appears to be the central point of the GSMA Latin America argument: costs to network operators are increasing, while revenues are not keeping pace. Meanwhile, a small number of large companies generate a lot of the data traffic operators carry without being part of efforts to strengthen the networks on which their services rely.

GSMA Latin America also cites regulatory, tax and commercial asymmetries, as well as the problem of high costs for spectrum use, all of which, it suggests, add to these inequalities, making the financing model for infrastructure networks neither sustainable nor scalable.

Its conclusion? “To achieve the digital future of users and industries in the region, we call on policymakers in Latin America and the Caribbean to enable flexible schemes in which all participants in the digital ecosystem can contribute equitably to the deployment of digital infrastructure that will be key to economic and social development.”

This argument – often called fair share – isn’t a new one. However, in the context of a region that needs better communications, and with Mobile World Congress 2024 very close, it may have more impact than usual.

And, by a useful coincidence, some of the points this commentary makes are echoed in the recent announcement, reported here yesterday, of the launch of the Digital Development Observatory, a new initiative that monitors Latin American and Caribbean digital development.

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