Wireless technology has the key to bridging Digital Divide

Examining some of the plug and play WTTx home equipment


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad -  October 18, 2018

The Latin America-Caribbean region has a population of over 650 million, but over 200 million of those do not have Internet access. Globally more than three billion people lack access to the Internet. The majority of them live in rural, hilly areas that are hard to access with traditional telecommunications technology. At the same time, of those who do have access, 55 percent globally depend on 3G signals. “Think about that. We are on the verge of 5G, the next step of the wireless revolution, but at very best 55 percent of the population are at 3G only,”  said Ari Lopes, Chief Analyst for telecommunications research firm, Ovum.

Lopes was one of the experts who spoke at the LATAM WTTx Summit, held Friday 28thSeptember at Hyatt Trinidad where TSTT CEO Dr. Ronald Walcott unveiled the company’s pioneering Zero Copper / WTTx  wireless broadband plans as part of a national broadband network. The CEO noted the advantages of using WTTx technology including faster rollout of services, ease of use with plug and play equipment and cost effective deployment in diverse rural or hilly terrain.

Lopes told the audience that among wireless technologies, fixed wireless has a small customer base but is growing fast because it can deliver high levels of service across different scenarios with speeds of up to 200 mbps.

“WTTX is going to be the second fastest growing in the world, just behind fibre,” he said. “So it's really interesting to see TSTT doing this bold strategy of zero copper using WTTX. Latin America and other parts of the world will be very interested to see how this project succeeds in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Lopes noted that in Latin America, only one percent of the 100MHz of TDD spectrum allocated to countries in the region was being used yet, the region's telecommunications sector accounts for almost three percent of its GDP. So “bridging the digital divide is on the agenda of all the governments in the region,” Lopes said.

“There is a real opportunity here for the public sector and the private sector to come together to form partnerships in tackling the issue”, he said. He listed three main players in the private sector—the Carriers, Network Vendors, and Tower companies—as being crucial to such public/private partnership. “These three agents together can really accelerate and find a way to address those millions of households in the Caribbean and Latin America that lag behind the rest of the world,” he said.

In describing the benefits of such cooperation for bridging the digital divide, Lopes highlighted Mexico's Conectado programme that has won the country several prizes internationally. He said many lessons could be learned from their success. He said Mexico's state and local governments worked together on the rollout of the national broadband plan, ensuring significant cost savings when it came to dealing with suppliers, and making the process for licensing easier. “They brought together local, federal and State government to make available their infrastructure to the private sector to deploy this connectivity,” he said. Mexico's government wants to further reduce its use of satellite for telecommunications, currently at 29 percent, “because it's very expensive.”

Examining some of the plug and play WTTx home equipment

Ari Lopes, Chief Analyst at Ovum

TSTT CEO, Dr. Ronald Walcott addresses the audience in the LATAM WTTx Summit where he launched TSTT's Zero Copper Campaign