On November 15, Deputy Pablo Carro (FPV — opposition), who is set to be the next president of the Communications and IT Committee in the Chamber of Deputies, and the Professional Council of Telecommunications, Electronics and Computer Engineering (COPITEC) held a debate where experts from business and academia and other spheres addressed the need for public policies to regulate radio, television and telephony services.
During the conference, entitled “Challenges for ICT and Audiovisual Infrastructure Policies”, the guests expressed their concerns and made proposals to move forward with regulations related to convergence, open digital television (ODA), mobile communications and information technologies.
At the beginning of the meeting, deputy Carro said that “communication is a fundamental human right” and that “all citizens have the right to be connected.” At the same time, he pointed out that there are “debts pending,” such as ODA implementation, and regulating digital applications. “Business interests must be aligned with the rights of audiences and citizens,” he added.
The day was divided into panels. Below are the most relevant contributions made by the specialists attending the meeting:
Policies, uses and maintenance of the radio spectrum for mobile communications and connectivity.
Anabel Cisneros, President of ISOC (Internet Society) Argentina
- “We need to pay attention to the mobile services band because user demand for connectivity is so great that the entire spectrum is being absorbed. There is a growing demand for frequencies previously used for other technologies”
- “Before, services were moving towards the suburbs. Today it is a challenge to fit services into this small spectrum.”
- “The State must respect the laws and new governments should not derogate these.”
Alejandro Adamowicz, Director of Technology and Strategy GSMA Latin America
- “5G needs viable business models for spectrum development. However, we need to avoid fragmentation and favour pro-spectrum and pro-innovation regulation.”
- “We need to simplify regulatory requirements and streamline the licensing system for infrastructure development.”
- “Spectrum availability and prices must be aligned. If prices are too high, this will end up affecting innovation.”
Ariel Fernández Alvarado, president of the Chamber of Telecommunications Cooperatives
- “Talking about 5G means taking a different approach, as this network cannot be sold like previous ones. This one will enable current operators to become virtual. In 5G everything still remains to be seen: how it will be regulated, who will own it, how it will be distributed, etc.”
Radio spectrum for digital TV and broadcasting: status and prospects.
María Eugenia Muscio, Argentine Chamber of Professional Audiovisual Equipment Suppliers and Manufacturers
- “The actions required are to put the SATVD-T advisory council back into operation; plan analog switch-off; maintain the ODA and complete its coverage; provide incentives for national industry to develop methods of technological progress from the ISDT-T regional standard to next generation DTT; and also develop new convergent broadcasting and Internet services.”
- “There is a broadcasting spectrum for television but no public policies to preserve the radio spectrum for broadcasting. This needs to be planned and controlled. It is also necessary to put together adequate specifications for the realities of the companies and non-profit entities, to call for bids and award contracts.”
Susana Pachecoy, specialist Northeastern National University
- “It’s quite a challenge to talk about open digital television.”
- “We could say that we are in a scenario where paid television is competing strongly with the OTT market, and there are speculations that in a few years there will be an abrupt drop in the paid television system as we know it. And OTT growth creates a scenario where there is real opportunity for ODA growth. That means access to content and information.”
- “The so-called Media Law established that paid operators had to broadcast to open operators in their service area. That led to the organization of the grid spectrum. The central axis is always the audience and the population’s right to information.”
- “The strongest modification was that paid television became an ICT service and was freed from all obligations. This resulted in must-carry disappearing overnight. Today we have no rules.”
Ricardo Porto, Buenos Aires University specialist and Secretary of the Media Committee of the National Senate
- “It is necessary to pay attention to the sustainability of private channels. They are open and free, and play an important social role. The State should fight against irregularity and encourage television entrepreneurship.”
- “In this context, and considering the two experiences of public and private models, digital television should fight against digital exclusion.”
Daniela Monje, researcher at the National University of Córdoba
- “Human rights must be incorporated into planning policies. The radio spectrum is a limited resource that is in the public domain”.
- “There are a number of problems with peripheral convergence. They require asymmetric regulation, consideration in the value chain, access to spectrum, and definitions around the public domain.”
Connectivity for all, capacity for whom? Articulation of fiber optic backbone networks, FTTH, satellite services. Development towards 5G.
Edmundo Poggio, Argentine Federation of Telephone Workers and Employees
- “It is necessary to stimulate the development and use of broadband.”
- “No one knows what the big mobile operators are doing, nor how many users there are.”
- “Competition from cable operators is going to be a major determinant of the growth of the fibre optic infrastructure.”
Ariel Graizer, president of the Argentine Internet Chamber
- “Competition helps us improve the quality of the services we provide users.”
- “The State has to go where it is not profitable for the private sector. If there are private companies, they should compete to provide services. This is a major challenge.”
- “The other problem is infrastructure sharing. Since we are in a federal country, sometimes a municipality stops you from investing in fiber. That’s why we need laws that allow us to override this situation.”
Guillermo Rus, Latam Satelital and former vice president of ARSAT (Argentine Enterprise of Satellite Solutions).
- “We have high-performance satellites that allow us to have satellite broadband at a price similar to other technologies. Other frequencies are beginning to be used. Satellites are becoming lighter and having lower launch costs.”
- “Satellite services can focus on where the demand is, while operators can focus capabilities according to where the market is directing them.”
- “Satellite broadband is one of the trends leading people to be connected everywhere and also in terms of the Internet of things.”
Luis Eiman, ECOM Chaco
- “We have to start by improving quality and lowering service prices.”
- “It is important for ARSAT to be a key player. The last few years have been a struggle. It is difficult to argue with someone who should be in the leading role and boost telecommunications. Implementation takes place at regional level and without their participation it is very difficult to implement any policy”.
Mariana Rodríguez Zani, a social communication graduate, and Lidia Seratti, representative of the consultative council of the Secretariat of Planning and Policies of Science, Technology and Innovation, of the Ministry of Science and Technology, were in charge of wrapping up the day.