5G: Potential for Latin America and Mexico

The fifth generation of mobile communications is already available in several regions of the world. The rollout of the 5G network infrastructure is led by industrialized countries such as the U.S., China, and several European countries.

The 5G network has now officially arrived in Mexico as well. Telcel and AT&T, the two leading telecommunications providers in Mexico, are the first operators and are targeting coverage of Mexico’s 18 largest cities. By the end of the year, 120 cities are expected to be equipped with the new network. The 5G network offers up to 100 times faster Internet than the previous generation and can transform society, industry and the daily lives of people in Mexico through faster connectivity, ultra-low latency and higher bandwidths.

In addition to Mexico, other Latin American countries, including, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Argentina, are also moving to unlock the new network. However, access to the 5G network will initially be limited to a small portion of the population, as only about 10 percent of the 120.6 million smartphones in the country are capable of connecting to 5G services. Despite numerous efforts to digitally connect Latin America, there is still a significant infrastructure gap. The digital divide is pronounced compared to Europe and the U.S., and overcoming it is complicated by the wide gap between rural and urban areas. Even in Mexico, some parts of the country still lack 3G and 4G network coverage, with only 61 percent of the country having access to this technology. The difference could be even more pronounced in the less developed states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, where the infrastructure for information and communication technologies is still weak.

For the 5G network to reach its full potential, Mexico will have to undergo a technological upgrade process in all areas. At present, however, Mexico is still in a transition phase to the digitized world. The country experienced a significant boost in digitization with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Non-digitized parts of the population were thus forced to use current technologies in order to participate in limited public life.

The expansion of the 5G network has great potential to promote the development of the country, increase productivity and positively influence the interaction of society. Furthermore, it is nowadays necessary to follow current trends of the world economy and to remain competitive.

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