Imagine that, in any part of Costa Rica, you have 99.9% internet availability, through a network with 1000 times more bandwidth and a speed 100 times faster than what you currently have.
Consider that, in your work, connectivity allows dynamic resource allocation, which makes many tasks easier. In that same imaginary world, there could be optimized use of assets and buildings, through energy monitoring, to reduce costs and promote sustainability. In your home, the Internet of Things would be a day-to-day thing, through the automated functions of your appliances and other devices.
The machines would also be responsible for facilitating collaboration in organizations through improved communication tools. Thousands of people would be using their mobile devices simultaneously, at higher speeds and without interruptions (like at your favorite concert or football game, for example). Advances such as telemedicine would enable remote health care, particularly in rural areas.
In this scenario, wireless internet access points could be installed, bringing connectivity everywhere, even to remote areas. It would also enable smart cities, with their efficient and automated power grids, security, autonomous vehicles, transportation, and water systems.
Although it seems taken from a futuristic movie or series, all this will happen in Costa Rica. However, it depends on only one – complex and sophisticated – factor: 5G and the countryis still in the early stages of the race for its implementation.
5G: three other challenges to run into the future
According to the Ericsson 2019 mobility report, only 11% of Latin America will have 5G available by 2025 and will continue to depend heavily not only on 4G, but on even more obsolete technologies (such as 2G and 3G). In contrast, in North America, 5G will comprise 75% of mobile technologies, while 4G will occupy 25%.
Costa Rica does not escape this reality at all. It is estimated that it will be around 2025 when services can barely be launched on this network, according to the Chamber of Info communication and Technology Association (Infocom). Every day that moves us away from 5G, as a country, is a day that we lose in competitiveness and acceleration of our economy.
What does it take to implement this technology?
A first aspect is that of availability. The 5G network requires a highly sophisticated national architecture, which depends not only on more antennas, but on new antennas, differentiated from those used for 4G. The same goes for the wiring. The most advanced cables that, by the way, we manufacture in Latin America, concentrate more optical fibers in a smaller diameter and have eight to 10 times more fiber in the same kilometer of cable.
Another key challenge is the lack of knowledge in the consumer, who is the one who will adopt and use the technology, and a first step in this direction is for future users to understand the benefits of Imagine that, in any part of Costa Rica, you have 99.9% internet availability now, in addition to all the relatively new and unknown services to which they will have access. This knowledge will enable them to make informed decisions, invest in 5G-enabled devices on time, and in due course, the value of the data plans that will become available.
These challenges create courses of action and agreements between public and private actors, who have the will and the capabilities to overcome each barrier. Joining forces to enhance all the opportunities that allow us to accelerate the pace and be pioneers in the race towards the 5G network in Latin America.