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New GSMA Report Highlights Economic Impact of AWS Spectrum for 4G Mobile Broadband in Latin America

The GSMA1 today released findings of a new report2, “The AWS Situation in the Americas”, which highlights the positive economic impact of allocating the AWS spectrum band (Advanced Wireless Services - 1700/2100MHz) to 4G mobile services in the Americas. Accelerated allocation of the band to 4G mobile services will be key for extending the region’s existing 4G deployments and ensuring economies of scale and seamless connectivity across the region. The study reveals that the economic benefit of licensing the AWS band for mobile would equate to an additional US $53 billion in countries where it has not been entirely licensed yet, including Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.

Business on the go (Photo: Business Wire)

Business on the go (Photo: Business Wire)

“There were more than 234 million mobile broadband connections in Latin America as of March 2014, and this is forecast to grow by 30 per cent per annum over the next five years3. Unlocking this valuable AWS spectrum band for mobile will be vital for 4G network development in the region,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. “Access to this band will result in many advantages for Latin American individuals and businesses alike, by delivering high quality service, boosting jobs and productivity and ensuring universal availability of Internet services through mobile broadband.”

While 12 countries in the Americas have already licensed part of or the full AWS spectrum band4, there are still significant economic benefits to be gained by a number of other markets that have yet to do so. These include Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, which have not yet decided to allocate new spectrum for 4G deployment; Argentina, which earlier this month announced the decision to license AWS spectrum; El Salvador, whose AWS spectrum auction is suspended; and Ecuador and Paraguay, which still have band segments vacant.

Total economic benefit of licensing the band in these countries will be worth over US $53 billion which equates to direct impact of almost US $30 billion from investments, the value chain dynamics of the mobile industry and growth in GDP and an indirect impact of US $23 billion benefiting other industry sectors and productivity. Other major benefits including the creation of new jobs and increased opportunities for regional mobile app and content developers, as well as organisations in mHealth, mEducation and other vertical sectors as these industries become increasingly connected by mobile.

The following table breaks down the direct and indirect economic benefits of licensing the AWS spectrum for mobile per country (net value in 2014):


  Direct Benefits

(US $ million)

  Indirect Benefits

(US $ million)

Argentina 14,569 9,913
Ecuador 6,294 5,882
El Salvador 1,716 1,495
Guatemala 3,152 2,810
Nicaragua 1,017 1,305
Panama 1,815 1,727
Paraguay 333 646

“The availability of this additional spectrum for mobile will have a direct impact on mobile users in the Americas,” continued Phillips. “There will be more bandwidth for current 2G and 3G mobile subscribers, since heavy users will be migrated to the AWS band, and digital inclusion will be boosted across the region through new offers for consumers including those at the bottom of the pyramid.”

The full report can be viewed here:

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1 GSMA Latin America represents the interests of mobile operators throughout the Latin America region with a presence in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. For more information on GSMA Latin America, including in English, Spanish and Portuguese, visit Follow GSMA LA on Twitter: @ GSMALatam.

2 The report was developed by Convergencia Research, the research and market intelligence arm of Grupo Convergencia, an independent company specialised in providing information on the telecoms industry and ICT in Latin America and the Caribbean.

3 Source: GSMA Intelligence

4 12 countries have already licensed a total of 820MHz in the AWS band in the Americas; namely Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Uruguay. As of end of March 2014, there were 33 networks deployed in this band and 4G accounts for 29 of those networks. Mobile operators from Mexico and South America have spent US $2.7 million acquiring spectrum licences in the AWS band while announcing over US $7.6 million4 in the rollout of 4G networks. In the countries where the AWS spectrum band was assigned, this represents an average of around 25 per cent of spectrum available in each territory for mobile services.

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

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