Tuesday 28 March 2023

Costa Rica lacks a strategy for 5G technology

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28 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Despite the fact that in 2022 Costa Rica launched the National Telecommunications Plan (Plan Nacional de Telecomunicaciones), essential to project the digital development of Costa Rica in the next five years, entrepreneurs in the technology industry do not know for sure if the country a is clear about the path to follow in digital development and this includes a “roadmap with clear goals” for the implementation of 5G technology.

The document was created by the Ministry of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (Miccit), the ministry responsible for directing the country’s technology policy.

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The plan is even essential so that the National Telecommunications Fund (Fonatel) can set goals to reduce the digital divide.

This lack of strategies and legal security is what is putting at risk the success of the implementation of the 5G network in Costa Rica and widening the digital divide, mainly in areas far from the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).

According to the 2019 National Household Survey of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Inec), the Huetar Norte area is the one that registers the greatest disconnection with 12% of its population; followed by Chorotega with 8% and Huetar Caribe and Bruca with 7% disconnection.

“If we have not been able to reach all corners of the country with 3G and 4G technologies, much less when 5G is launched, that is why we must do it very well planned and organized so as not to leave more vulnerable populations disconnected than they are today. and that if the correct decisions are not made, we would be condemning them to never be connected”, warned Mario Montero, president of the Chamber of Infocommunication and Technology (Infocom).

The development of the 5G network in Costa Rica depends on the agility with which Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) returns to the State the necessary frequencies for this new technology to work. The regulatory authority, the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel) estimates that the concession process could take up to 18 months.

“What happens if 5G networks are not deployed? Costa Rica is going to lose competitiveness, all the companies that are established could make the decision to migrate to other countries that offer them more and better conditions,” commented Edwin Estrada, former Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and representative of the Chamber. Costa Rican Institute of Information and Communication Technologies (Camtic) – Costa Rican Chamber of Information and Communication Technologies.

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“At this moment, Costa Rica has a fairly important cluster of software companies that produce services and different products that are placed in international markets and that are being limited to development opportunities. They are sources of employment that can be created and foreign currency that can enter the country, some of these companies are considering moving to other countries that offer them the conditions to develop products and services,” added Estrada.

Once the network is implemented, the browsing speed will be 100 times more than what we currently experience, which would allow, for example, to download a movie in a matter of seconds or drive a car remotely.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Banco Mundial (World Bank) agree that only the installation of the antennas and bases for the operation of 5G and access to high-speed communications will increase the indicators of social development in Costa Rica, mainly in rural areas.

In addition, expected is greater connectivity and stability would allow greater teleworking, virtual medical care in remote areas of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).

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Parallel to the development of the 5G network, the expansion of 3G and 4G technologies in unprofitable areas for the commercial sector is essential.


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