Telefónica and Telecom already prepare the ground for the 5G: what will change with the arrival of this technology
Autonomous vehicles, super-automated industries, smart cities, virtual reality, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and ultra-broadband mobile accesses are some of the enriched proposals brought by the latest generation of mobile technologies: the 5G.
In an incipient way, it is already available in several cities around the world. In Argentina, operators take note of this global breakthrough. Some voices are enthusiastic about the fact that the disembarkation in the country will take place next year; others indicate that we will have to wait a little longer.
In order for a user to enjoy the new services on a 5G phone, companies must first adapt and update all the equipment that makes this technology available to them at hand.
In this "update" enter networks, software, fiber optics, smartphones, radio spectrum (the air through which wireless signals travel) and antennas. Many antennas All this involves multimillion dollar investments.
Preparing the ground
While the launch of 5G in Argentina will take at least a year, Movistar and Personal are already paving the way. That is, adding infrastructure and analyzing new features to boost revenue. In other countries, they offer mostly alternative wireless broadband fixed services to cable connections.
Martín Wessel, manager of Technological Evolution of Telecom, assures that in Personnel are prepared "to receive the 5G technology expanding the coverage, availability and capacity of the network through a technological reconversion and continuing the deployment of 4G".
"The company is investing in the 4.5G network, which is already active in 100% of the 4G network, and represents the prelude to the possibilities that the 5G will offer," he adds. This year, the company conducted a public test of this innovation.
On a global scale, Telefónica follows very closely the definitions of technology in entities such as 3GPP, which are in charge of defining technological standards. He has also performed tests in different markets, such as Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Peru. The objective is clear: to become familiar with this technology.
Adrián Di Meo, Chief Technical and Information Officer of Telefónica, points out that the company plans to extend the fiber optic lines to bring more capacity to the base stations and updates in the core of the network. "We are already working on the 5G Ready concept," he explains.
In parallel, the technical team of Movistar works in conjunction with the marketing division for the corporate and consumer sectors in order to identify use cases of 5G different from those of 4G. New business models, in other words. "There is a technical preparation to guarantee investments," says the CTIO.
Personal, business and industrial communication
Telecommunications operators in Argentina and the world tend to convergence. That is, the same operator can offer voice services (fixed and mobile), Internet access (fixed and mobile) and Pay TV. The capacities and speeds promised by the 5G can make these offers viable wirelessly.
Basically, providers offer information and entertainment through their networks. With the arrival of 5G they will add productive value. That is, this new technology will make telecommunications more permeable for all sectors of the economy and human activity.
There will be a convergence between physical and digital life, both in the mass and corporate markets. According to José Otero, vice president for Latin America of 5G Americas, people will benefit from faster connection speeds: "They will access wireless devices that will improve efficiency in various aspects of their lives, from smart energy meters to high-speed WiFi in the car.
"The business sector will see the digitalization of production processes easier thanks to the fact that many devices can connect wirelessly when a previously wired alternative was the only option," he adds.
Di Meo, from Telefónica, adds: "5G will lead users to consume more data", and cites the case of South Korea: "It already commercializes 50 GB packages and there were no price increases proportional to the new capabilities of the We are waiting for the 5G standard to mature to accelerate. "
Martín Wessel, of Telecom, indicates that fifth generation networks pose "a different scenario for society, since they enhance the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence systems and the way we communicate". He argues that they can "exponentially increase the number of terminals connected, with one million devices per km2."
Although all operators are in the gates for the 5G race, do not expect grandiloquent launches in terms of coverage or new services.
Héctor Huici, ICT secretary at the Modernization Secretariat, tells iProUP: "Initially, the 5G will be a more business-oriented service and for areas with high population density and traffic." "It will improve the quality of connectivity due to the increase in speed and its low latency, although it will not expand coverage," he adds.
The expansion of mobile services depends largely on the spectrum available to operators. In this regard, the national government commissioned a study from which a kind of radiography of the radioelectric resource in the country was obtained.
In the research, various topics were evaluated, such as future spectrum needs in the Argentine market, available bands, deadlines, associated costs and international experiences in terms of band prices, among others.
"Having concluded this study, we are now analyzing the steps to be taken, which include a possible public consultation on aspects related to the report and special issues referenced to 5G," Huici says.
According to Huici, an important issue to facilitate the deployment will be the local regulations for the installation of antennas, since "the necessary amount forces us to rethink the authorization methods, although their smaller size will facilitate the need for authorizations".
Times that the sector handles
For now, companies do not foresee new sources of income associated with this technology that can add revenues that equate millionaire disbursements.
They understand that they can offer the same as with 4G (surf the Internet, download content, use video and music platforms), although much faster. In other words, this greater speed does not reach -by itself- to increase sales in proportion accordingly.
The first Latin American country to have the fifth generation of communications is Uruguay, hand in hand with Antel. In April, the state operator deployed a commercial network in La Barra and Nueva Palmira, in the departments of Maldonado and Colonia, respectively.
In the rest of Latin America, "new launches are expected in Brazil and Puerto Rico, although we can not ignore events in Bolivia or Peru," says the vice president for Latin America of 5G Americas.
"There are very few countries where operators already have spectrum to provide this service," said Wessel to iProUP. "Estimates point to the start of commercial deployment in Latin America by 2021, tied to technological definitions, spectrum availability and suitable terminals."
In Telefónica they agree with the vision of Wessel. Di Meo understands that the development of 5G depends on three key variables:
- Radio spectrum, a resource administered by the Government
- Network infrastructure
- Configuration of the supplier map, after the Huawei conflict with the United States
"We have to wait for a greater existence of devices that promote economies of scale: more massiveness, lower costs ... The 4G was developed by smartphones, not by the network: the driver is the terminal", explains Di Meo .
How does 4G continue?
In early June, the Government published Resolution 865/2019 in the Official Gazette to accelerate 4G coverage, forcing operators to close agreements to "share infrastructure" in order to provide services in road corridors and towns between 500 and 10,000 inhabitants. In 180 days, the services must be operational.
For now, operators continue with their expansion plans. From Movistar indicate that they are fulfilling the obligations of coverage to reach 93% of the population (today they have 85%). From Personal they indicate that the 4G network continues to grow, with more than 12.5 million customers and reach in more than 1,540 localities in the country.
The Government is satisfied with the progress and is confident that the 4G has a coverage of 93% of the population at the end of the year and more than 16,000 km on routes.
In this sense, the new standard "will ensure that users of any operator will access 4G as the deployment progresses regardless of which company is a customer, thus speeding up coverage," concludes Huici.