The Missing Link
By Greg Varisco and Dave Crowley
May 27, 2021
For a majority of the world, digitization plays a huge part in our daily lives by keeping people and devices seamlessly connected. Surprisingly, digital engagement in certain regions of the world is slow in developing ‘use cases’ as many obstacles hinder the development of new infrastructure and slows their progression towards a digital economy. Advancing developments to close gaps and enhance the infrastructure is warranted, but faces real limitations and restrictions, such as what exists between Asia and Europe, illustrated below as The Missing Link.
As we progress forward and focus our attention on expanding telecommunications across the world and the evolving services which need more reliability and cost efficiency, more demand is produced, wanting faster progress that at some point only facilitated by 5G access and Cloud Computing (CC) platforms. Rapid growth of CC data centers is expanding at a phenomenal rate1 and countries that lead in the global race of 5G and CC will gain an edge in rolling out future services with advancing technologies, government awareness, high-value investors, and content providers willing to ensure capital availability for new infrastructure.
As mentioned in the Latin American Economic Outlook (LEO), 5G is expected to radically transform technologies’ role in society and firms are expected to enable a new era of the IoE- Internet of Everything via massive connection, faster transmission speeds, lower latency, and lower power. New systems aim to provide 20 Gbps download speed, 10 Gbps upload speed and 1 ms latency, i.e., 200 times faster download speed, 100 times faster upload speed and one-tenth the latency compared with existing systems (OECD, 2019f). 5G is expected to lead to new ‘use cases’, such as smart cities and smart agriculture, more efficient logistics, transformed health and education services, and renewed security agencies. It is also expected to revolutionize the industrial sector and give rise to new business models through the integration of technologies such as AI, virtual and augmented reality.
This digital information revolution is driven by the advancements in technology, specifically Cloud and Edge Computing, to meet the on-demand availability of computer system resources, data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The CC data centers currently deployed are shown below. There is a clear gap or low-density penetration of CC data centers in the circled area. This comes as no surprise since low latency and resiliency of the connectivity goes hand-in-hand with data center deployments. CC requirements demand high-reliability, low latency links, and to solve the “missing link” for the region highlighted in the graphic, systems will have to satisfy these requirements and higher capacities (400G to 1000G services) at a substantially lower cost per bit- a key measure of value for CC infrastructure.
 The LEO is a joint annual publication produced by the OECD Development Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the European Union (EU).