With the demand for data growing in many parts of Latin America, there’s little surprise in Chile’s most recent move into bringing LTE technology closer to home. Late last week, Chilean mobile operator Entel made a strategic choice by selecting Swedish telecom giant Ericsson to deploy its 4G LTE networks as part of a strategic alliance the two companies have committed to. The move symbolizes a growing trend in the region to upgrade cellular network data in order to meet an ever-increasing demand. As we’ve mentioned before, mobile broadband adoption in Latin America is overpassing fixed broadband, and the race to see who can develop the best network, fastest, is well underway.
Ericsson the Perfect Fit
Entel announced this most recent news in a written statement released to local press in Chile, and has plans to further disclose more details as the project progresses. For now, Entel is very optimistic about this partnership, and feels that there’s no better group to work with at this time than Ericsson. According to a statement made by Entel, “Ericsson is the largest international provider of LTE technology (4G) and mobile broadband…” adding that they will “introduce cutting edge technology and provide a platform for Ericsson to test its new products and services.” All in all, it’s a win/win for both companies. Ericsson gets to expand its market reach to Chile, a country with a booming data and tech demand. Entel gets tested, proven technology that they can implement far more rapidly than if they had to develop and test in house.
Other LTE Projects in Chile
Entel, along with Telefonica’s Movistar Chile, and América Móvil’s Claro, together won the LTE spectrum rights in the 2.6GHz band category in July 2012. They each now have 12 months to roll out the infrastructure, and capitalize on implementing the networks into the Chilean marketplace. Movistar also made an announcement announced on Feb 21 that it had chosen Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for its LTE rollout. This move follows Claro, who announced a partnership with Nokia Siemens last November. If these projects are successful, Chile could be used as a model for other telecoms in the region to follow suit, and partner up with other foreign entities for further LTE projects in the future.
América Móvil, who was the first to make such a partnership, plans to launch its LTE in Chile within the next month or two, which would make it the first out of the three companies to do so. In a market research study released last November, it was reported that NSN had actually gained ground on market leaders Ericsson during Q3 2012, watching its worldwide market share rise to 20% from 18% in the previous quarter. Likewise, Ericsson saw its market share fall just slightly by 1.5 percentage points to 34%, which still leaves it at a greater advantage than NSN as far as overall market presence. Needless to say, both companies will be competing heavily to roll out successful LTE technology in Chile this year.
Entel’s move with Ericsson should be a good indicator on the potential value of the Chilean mobile broadband market. With smartphone and data adoption expected to grow in the 20-30% range annually over the next two years, it appears that the rush to invest is well under way. Though we may not have seen these networks in action yet, all signs point to quick implementation, and even quicker adaptive trends, both in Chile, and across the continent.
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