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¿El Salvador en el último lugar en las telecomunicaciones en Latinoamérica?

El Salvador ocupa la posición 98 del índice de capacidad tecnológica (2014-2015) del Foro Económico Mundial (WEF). Este indicador mide el nivel en que las economías están preparadas para aplicar los beneficios  de las tecnologías de la información para promover el desarrollo económico. Comparativamente nos encontramos por debajo de países como Costa Rica y Jamaica[1. Jamaica no cuenta con LTE. ] y por encima de Guatemala, Nicaragua y Argentina[2.  Argentina cuenta con LTE. ]. De 27 economías analizadas, El Salvador ocupa la posición 19.

Por el otro lado, de acuerdo al Reporte de Capacidad Tecnológica de 2014 del Foro Económico Mundial[3. Este reporte muestra la posición de 143 países en diversos indicadores del sector de telecomunicaciones. ], en indicadores como, por ejemplo, kilobytes de banda ancha por usuario, servidores seguros de internet por cada millón de habitantes y acceso a contenido digital, El Salvador está, por ejemplo, mejor posicionado que Honduras, pero por debajo de Costa Rica[4. Mientras que El Salvador está ubicado en los puestos 101,81 y 85 de los referidos indicadores, Honduras lo está en los puestos 118,95 y 107. Costa Rica está ubicado en los puestos 59, 52 y 47, respectivamente. ]. De acuerdo a este reporte nos encontramos en el tercio inferior de la distribución de Latinoamérica, pero no somos el último lugar.

Si nos enfocamos en la adopción de tecnologías específicas, como LTE, el panorama cambia. El proceso de adopción de LTE es todavía incipiente y aún no ha sido completado a nivel latinoamericano[5.La primera red 4G de América Latina fue lanzada por Antel de Uruguay en diciembre de 2011. En el último tiempo, la cantidad de despliegues de redes 4G ha aumentado: en 2014, 17 operadoras más lanzaron nuevas redes 4G, y otras 21 operadoras planean hacerlo en los próximos años. La GSMA pide un enfoque sostenible para las tecnologías 4G y M2M en América Latina (mayo 2015). Recuperado el 22 de octubre de 2015, de http://www.gsma.com/.]. Incluso para el año 2020 no se espera que la cobertura con este tipo de conexión sea total. Uruguay ocupa el primer lugar con un 84% del territorio cubierto; Bolivia el segundo, con un 67%; Perú, en tercero con 61% y México en cuarto, con 60%.[6. LTE Deployment Status Latin America (enero de 2015). Recuperado el 31 de octubre de 2015, de http://www.4gamericas.org/] De acuerdo a datos de 4G Américas, El Salvador, Nicaragua y Cuba son los países de América Latina que no han adoptado LTE.

En el caso de El Salvador se inició la adopción de LTE en 2014, cuando Digicel invirtió $45 millones en red 4G, convirtiéndose en el primer operador en brindar ese servicio en el país aunque limitado a ciertas áreas. Digicel habría realizado esto pese a la cancelación de una subasta de 40 MHz[7. La referida subasta correspondía a 40 MHz en porciones de 10 MHz en cada una de las siguientes bandas: de 1,850 a 1,860 MHz; 1,930 a 1,940 MHz; 1,760 a 1,770 MHz y 2,160 a 1,170 MHz. El Consejo Directivo de la SC emitió opinión al respecto, mediante resolución referencia SC-043-S/LP/R-2013, de fecha 11 de octubre de 2013, recomendando realizar la subasta asegurando la participación exclusiva de nuevos operadores para incrementar el número de competidores en el mercado. En defecto de lo dicho, suspender la subasta. ] de espectro radioeléctrico[8. La Sala de lo Constitucional, en el proceso de inconstitucionalidad 65-2012, mediante resolución de fecha 16 de mayo de 2014, decidió suspender provisionalmente la aplicación de las disposiciones de la Ley de Telecomunicaciones y su Reglamento. A tal efecto, ordenó a SIGET, entre otras cosas, abstenerse de hacer efectivo cualquier tipo de procedimiento de subasta pública, relativo a la explotación del espectro radioeléctrico. Posteriormente, mediante sentencia de fecha 29 de julio de 2015, dicha Sala se pronunció sobre dicho proceso de inconstitucionalidad, aclarando en esta oportunidad que SIGET deberá abstenerse de efectuar cualquier tipo de concesión de espectro radioeléctrico de radiodifusión sonora o de televisión. ]. A su vez, en las páginas de los operadores Tigo y Claro se anuncia que también ofrecen esta tecnología actualmente, pero de forma limitada[9. Digiciel invierte $45 millones en red 4G (Enero 2014). Recuperado el 21 de octubre de 2015, de http://www.laprensagrafica.com/; 10 nuevas redes LTE llegarán a Latinoamérica (Mayo de 2015). Recuperado el 21 de octubre de 2015, de http://www.estrategiaynegocios.net/;]. No estamos, entonces, tan mal como se nos ha dicho.

Para responder a las necesidades crecientes de capacidad de red la industria de las telecomunicaciones móviles necesita acceder a más espectro radioeléctrico. Es en este contexto que el apagón analógico jugará un papel determinante en la implementación de la tecnología 4G en El Salvador. Siguiendo los lineamientos de la UIT, un escenario relevante a evaluar es que el proceso afecte las bandas de frecuencias de 700 MHz (696 a 806 MHz) para obtener un dividendo que se destine a LTE[10. La Conferencia Mundial de Radiocomunicaciones 2007 de la UIT, para el caso de la Región 2 (Américas), identificó la banda de 698 – 806 MHz (“700 MHz”) para Telecomunicaciones Móviles Internacionales (IMT).]. La liberación de esta frecuencia facilitará su adopción, ya que, por ejemplo, el uso de esta frecuencia conllevará ahorros importantes para los operadores. Al ser una frecuencia más baja, la instalación sería menos costosa. Según la GSMA podría ser hasta un 70% más barato el invertir en esta banda respecto a la de 2.5 GHz.

De acuerdo al Foro Económico Mundial[11. The Global information technology Report (2014-2015); Foro Económico Mundial; 2015. The Global Competiveness Report (2014-2015) ] la calidad de las conexiones de telecomunicaciones y contar con redes de altas velocidades son factores fundamentales para fomentar el desarrollo económico. Adoptar tecnologías 4G de forma completa es deseable, por cuanto ofrecen grandes ventajas.

Se ha afirmado recientemente que El Salvador ocupa el último lugar de Latinoamérica en el desarrollo de las telecomunicaciones, basándose en que aún no está disponible la plataforma 4G para navegación de dispositivos móviles ni los servicios de Long Term Evolution (LTE).[12. Estas tecnologías surgen de la búsqueda de mejor velocidad de descarga y constituyen un avance respecto a la 3G. A pesar los servicios LTE brindan incrementos sustanciales en velocidad, respecto a tecnologías precedentes, el LTE es un paso transitorio entre las conexiones actuales y el ideal de desarrollo 4G, y el que en su denominación se use el concepto “Evolution” (evolución), da cuenta que todavía se trata de una tecnología en desarrollo y que no ha logrado su máximo potencial.] Sin embargo, para evaluar el desempeño del país en el sector de las telecomunicaciones debe efectuarse un análisis integral, ya que este no se reduce a la existencia y desarrollo de este tipo de conexiones.

En conclusión, si bien El Salvador se encuentra rezagado en el desarrollo de la tecnología LTE, esto no significa que el sector de las telecomunicaciones se encuentre atrasado, en términos absolutos. Para efectos de avanzar en su implementación un factor importante es la asignación del espacio de espectro más eficiente para el desarrollo de mejores tecnologías. Esto permitirá a los agentes económicos efectuar las inversiones necesarias para que en nuestro país se verifique una expansión continua de los servicios móviles en beneficio de los ciudadanos y obtener así la máxima utilidad de la adopción de la tecnología móvil.

 

Por: Francisco Díaz Rodríguez
Superintendente de Competencia

– Los comentarios en este artículo expresan la opinión del autor –


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