7 Questions With Pamela Gidi Masías
By SubTel Forum
July 20, 2020
Talking Industry Trends with Chile’s Vice-Minister of Telecommunications
1. What is SUBTEL’s mission and vision?
The Vice-Ministry of Telecommunications from Chile (SUBTEL) works towards promoting and developing telecommunications as an engine for economic and social development. Over the years, since market liberalization, SUBTEL has set a very dynamic step for the telecommunications market. The early adoption of different technologies has been key to this. And, more importantly, this paradigm has been very stable across governments and has led to a market of nearly 85 internet users per 100 inhabitants and a service coverage close to 99 percent of the inhabited territory.
As part of the institutional mission, SUBTEL’s role is twofold. First, it is in charge of proposing national policies on telecommunications, following government guidelines and overseeing the implementation of these policies. Also, SUBTEL is responsible for the compliance and enforcement of Telecoms Law, regulations, and standards.
Equalize access to connectivity is also part of SUBTEL’s mission. There are mechanisms in place to promote access of telecoms into disadvantaged areas of the country and to improve competition among market players, which translates into the provision of higher quality services.
As for SUBTEL’s vision, by 2022, Chile must successfully face the challenges posed by the digital revolution, with more and better-connected citizens. The deployment of fiber optics in regional capitals through the Austral Fiber Optic project (FOA) and the deployment of 5G mobile networks will be the key to achieve this objective. In the region, the country aims to become a digital hub, through the Asia – South America Digital Gateway project, which Chile as the regional landing point. We will increase competition, laying the foundations for an attractive market for companies, and thus promoting ICT investment. We will defend the rights of users and minimize the existing Digital Divide.
2. What projects are being implemented in SUBTEL to turn Chile into a Digital Hub?
An extensive telecommunications infrastructure is a fundamental requirement to achieve the development of countries. Today more than ever, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that connectivity is a necessity, as more performance is demanded from networks, and more people need to stay connected for several purposes. According to this, one of the most significant projects is the submarine fiber optic cable that aims to connect Asia and South America, providing more alternatives for Chile’s access to international high-speed connectivity.
At the domestic level, the National Fiber Optic Project (FON) purpose is to reduce the digital isolation of localities and less populated cities through the deployment of fiber optic networks in communal capitals, covering from the northernmost cities to the most southern. The project entails the deployment of nearly 9,000 kilometers of fiber optic lines. These new networks will benefit 13 regions of the country and 186 communes, included in 6 Macrozones (Arica and Parinacota, North, Center-North, Center, Center-South, and South). This initiative will be favoring more than 3 million people who currently live in 200 localities with insufficient or hard to access connectivity, and it has recently awarded five of the six macro zones of this FON project. The mechanism operating in the project consists of public investment obtained through a contest that leverages private resources.
Finally, the Vice-Ministry intends to launch a contest to assign a spectrum for the deployment of national 5G licenses within the next few months (in Chile spectrum licenses are given through a tender instead of auctions). This technology introduces significant improvements to the current mobile network model, due to their high capacity, high speed, and low latency. The timely implementation of 5G technology in Chile offers the possibility of developing innovative applications and products in various fields of the economy, as well as improving the user experience that demands high-quality digital connectivity services. 5G will promote innovation in the markets, impulse the performance of the economy, and deepen the quality of life of citizens.
All these projects promote Chile as a Digital Hub in the Latin American region.