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Connecting Latin America: How real-world data drives real-world progress

Over the past few years, Latin America's connectivity landscape has undergone a significant transformation. Since 2021 4G technology has reigned supreme with over 410 million connections. Now, the region is poised for a monumental shift, as 4G adoption peaks in 2024 and a widespread transition towards 5G services begins.

Realizing the 5G potential

A recent analysis by the GSMA forecasts a steady rise in 5G connections in the region, which is expected to account for 60% of total connections by 2030. But 5G adoption will be made unevenly. Currently, only eight out of 33 countries in the region have launched commercial 5G service, while others, including Colombia, are just getting started, with a bidding and auction process for 5G spectrum underway now. The motivation is clear, as a recent survey reveals almost two-thirds of consumers in Latin America intend to upgrade to 5G.

In our inaugural benchmarking analysis of the 5G experience in Latin America, we looked at the experience of mobile users across seven of the eight markets that have already deployed commercial 5G services. The findings highlighted Brazil and Guatemala as frontrunners in terms of speed and experiential metrics, in addition, Puerto Rican users are able to connect to 5G services an impressive 48% of the time, the highest in the region.

Unlocking meaningful connectivity

Governments and regulators have a pivotal role to play in realizing the potential of any connectivity technology. As 5G switches on across the region, measuring users’ real-world experience and the technology's real-world impact will become essential in achieving meaningful connectivity and driving Latin America forward. Policies that facilitate network investments, enhance the affordability of digital services for consumers, and align spectrum availability and pricing with the objective of achieving universal connectivity are crucial to driving this progress.

A significant milestone underscoring Latin America's evolution in the telecommunications sector is the recent ITU-T Study Group 12 meeting held in Mexico City.  On this occasion, the "Roadmap for QoS and QoE in the ITU-T Study Group 12 context" text received approval, paving the way for a clear classification of Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE), and how they relate to one another.

The ITU-T SG12 meeting commenced with a two-day workshop titled “Trends on Quality of Service and Connectivity Assessment and Evaluation from the user's perspective” focused on showcasing the latest trends, lessons learnt, and communication strategies in the realm of QoS, QoE and connectivity analysis. Opensignal was able to significantly contribute to these insightful discussions by offering valuable perspectives on assessing end-to-end connectivity, guiding the development of future policies to be genuinely user-centric and focused on establishing meaningful connectivity.

Real-world data driving real-world progress

In the quest for meaningful connectivity, it's crucial for stakeholders to actively consider several key factors in order to establish a standardized set of measurements. These include a global methodology, best-practice data science, and genuinely representative user-centric measures grounded in real-world data. By integrating these elements, governments and regulatory agencies can evaluate the true state of connectivity in their respective countries, set accurate benchmarks for regional comparisons, and lay the foundation for initiatives that drive the greatest impact.

Amidst a digital revolution, Latin America is striving to keep pace in the global connectivity race. This transformation comes with its set of challenges, but also a host of opportunities: to narrow the digital divide, foster progress and innovation, and fuel the adoption of future technologies. On the brink of 5G, now is the time to level up and ensure that connectivity in Latin America isn't just widespread but genuinely meaningful.

Our dedication to advancing connectivity in Latin America spans a wide spectrum of activities, including providing independent real-world analytics and insights to regulators, NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations. From publishing reports and insights on real-world network experience in over 17 countries across LatAm, to collaborating with regulators like Anatel in Brazil (view our recent case study here)  and Sutel in Costa Rica (check our latest report here), and fostering close relationships with intergovernmental institutions and NGOs such as the ITU, OECD, and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Opensignal acts as a trusted source for independent connectivity data worldwide.