Home Latin America 2004 A tool for digital inclusion – CDMA 450 MHz

A tool for digital inclusion – CDMA 450 MHz

by david.nunes
Luiz Cláudio Rosa Issue: Latin America 2004
Article no.: 7
Topic: A tool for digital inclusion – CDMA 450 MHz
Author: Luiz Cláudio Rosa
Title: Vice-President, Businesses Development for Mobility
Organisation: Lucent Technologies, Brazil
PDF size: 196KB

About author

Luiz Cláudio Rosa is the Vice-President of Businesses Development for Mobility at Lucent Technologies in Brazil. Mr Rosa has been a leader in the effort to position CDMA 450MHz as an important tool for Digital Inclusion and the Universalisation of Broadband Internet Access in Brazil. Before joining Lucent, Luiz Cláudio Rosa worked as an executive for Standard Electric, Teletra do Brasil – currently Alcatel and managed Splice Brazil’s Transmission Development Engineering Division. Mr Rosa is currently serving, having been re-elected, as a director of the board at ABINEE/SINAEES Brazil’s electro-electronic industry association. Mr Rosa is a frequent speaker at seminars and congresses and has often published articles in leading Brazilian and international publications.

Article abstract

Access to knowledge, the key to social and economic development, is considered a fundamental right. Digital exclusion, lack of access to information and technology creates a gap between those who have access and those who do not. The cost of universal access to information and communications can be prohibitive for a country such as Brazil. CDMA 450 technology can reduce the cost of access to voice and broadband data and play an important role in digital, social and economic inclusion.

Full Article

We live in a world where access to knowledge is one of the most valuable and fundamental tools for interpersonal, social and commercial relationships. Digital exclusion, lack of access to information and communication technology such as the Internet, clearly creates a deep gap between those who have and those that do not have access to information. Brazil is a very large country with nearly continental dimensions. Brazil’s communications infrastructure is concentrated in urban regions. This deprives thousands of citizens, cooperatives, rural properties and small companies that do not even have basic telecommunications services at their disposal and relegates them to second place. They are even further away from having broadband access and the knowledge and opportunity this brings; they are on the other side, the wrong side, of the digital divide. Only 13 percent of Brazilian homes have computers, and only nine per cent of these access the Internet. In Brazil’s southeast region, the most developed in the country, only 12 percent of the residences are connected to the network. At public institutions, the signs of digital exclusion are stronger. More than 52 per cent of the country’s elementary schools do not have a telephone line, and 92 per cent of the entire public school system has no access to the Internet. Connection to the Internet makes up only a part of what we call digital inclusion. Digital inclusion is the generic designation given to all the efforts, today, to enable people throughout the world to access the Internet, for both data and voice, so they can participate in the information society and reap the benefits of the global economy. Within this context, each and every one of the technologies that foster the universalisation of broadband access to information is essential. However, the high cost of traditional solutions such as fixed, wired, networks, is one of the factors that makes it impracticable for telecommunications service providers to offer their services in regions distant from the larger regional centres. Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 450 MHz technology, is one of the best alternative solutions from a social, economical and technological point-of-view. The signal coverage is the greatest differential. A single CDMA radio base station operating in the 450 MHz frequency band is capable of reaching points within a 60km radius, covering a region of more than 11,000 square kilometres. More than 80 per cent of Brazil’s districts have a smaller area than this. Since it uses radio access, CDMA 450 technology lets operators economically, cost-effectively, expand the availability of high-speed multimedia voice and data services to regions with low demographic densities. CDMA 450 greatly reduces the investment needed to rollout new services in many regions. Compared to other technologies for digital inclusion, CDMA 450 reduces the service providers’ costs by 50 per cent. Certainly, CDMA 450 is among the best infrastructure options for existing operators and service providers in terms of efficiency, capillarity and capital expense (CAPEX) savings. Networks operating in this, and related, frequency bands make it possible to expand economically wireless broadband services, even to isolated regions, within Brazil’s immense, continental scale, territory. When discussing the universalisation of Internet access, a good many technological and regional questions should be considered. There are several third generation CDMA technologies (UMTS / W-CDMA, CDMA 20001xRTT [153 Kbps transmission] and 1xEV-DO [2.4 Mbps data transmission]) capable of providing high-speed broadband services on a more cost effective basis than can the TDMA or GSM technologies. In several countries with characteristics similar to those in Latin America, these solutions have already provided the local population with a significant advance in accessing high-speed voice and data services, thus enabling them to use e-mail, take advantage ofvideo downloads and gain access to corporate applications. In addition, the higher speed data connections makes it possible to take advantage of distance learning or tele-education programs that provide job training or even high quality university level courses throughout the world. High-speed data access also makes tele-medicine programs possible. Tele-medicine gives local medical and paramedical professionals real-time access to the staff at major medical facilities for advice, consultation, and remote diagnostics. Surgery at a distance, now in its earliest experimental stages at specialised research centres, will one day be possible as well. Among the countries with the greatest potential to grow significantly in the coming years, the so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – only Brazil is not yet using CDMA 450 networks to expand its voice and data services. CEPT, the Committee for European Post and Telecommunications, which represents 46 European countries, has recommended the adoption of a 450 MHz frequency including Western Europe, countries such as Portugal, Sweden and Finland. Brazil, and Latin America as a whole, should not be left out of the vanguard working to put an end to the digital gap. The deployment of low frequency CDMA technology in Brazil still awaits the definition of the county’s telecommunications regulatory bodies. However, ANATEL, Brazil’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency is now consulting with sector representatives and other interested parties, and is studying how to regulate the use of CDMA 450 in cooperation with other regulatory bodies in Latin America. Proving the technology A pilot trial of Digital Communications Services (SCD) carried out in Brazil’s capital, the Federal District area – Brasília served to corroborate the efficiency of the 450 MHz frequency and demonstrate its wide functionality to provide voice and data services. The trial was carried out with the cooperation and support of ANATEL, Brazil’s telecommunications regulatory agency. The pilot project, which made use of terminals and applications developed in Brazil, captured a signal from a radio base station, or RBS, installed at Santa Maria in the Federal District. To carry out the tests of CDMA 450 MHz technology, a specially equipped travelling bus was built. The bus visited communities outside Brasília, the urban area of the Federal District, and was highly appreciated by the local inhabitants. When the bus arrived in each community, hundreds of people had the opportunity to use and experience the sort of communications made possible by digital technology. For many, it was their first chance to see and use the Internet they had heard so much about through the media. Between April and June 2004, more than 3,000 inhabitants of Brasilia and Federal District’s satellite cities, such as Santa Maria, Candangolândia, Taguatinga and Sobradinho, were able to confirm in practice the benefits of CDMA 450 MHz technology. Many inhabitants of the region, some of them for the first time, had the opportunity to access a variety of the services and applications made available by telecommunications. Rural communities, police station employees, public school students and community computer centres’ students had the opportunity to follow the trial closely. The trial successfully proved the possibility of transmitting signals over distances greater than 60km from the RBS. The trial also confirmed the performance of CDMA450 MHz technology and its potential, in the effort to increase digital inclusion and universalisation of broadband access throughout the country, as a viable infrastructure option. Universal access to broadband in public schools and computer learning centres is one of the most important investments that can be made in education. The digital inclusion of children and young people in the information society is one of the best investments a nation can make in its own future and that of its citizens. The CDMA 450 MHz benefits the population, the government, and the concessionaires of fixed and mobile services, which can economically expand their existing networks to cover areas currently excluded. Today, each telecommunications network is linked to a specific provider. In regions where there are several operating companies, we now have parallel, duplicated, network infrastructures serving the same population. What is being proposed, to turn round this scenario and facilitate the universalisation of access to the Internet, is to consolidate these separate facilities into a single shared network, capable of carrying the traffic and services of several different operators. When a number of service providers can use a common infrastructure, it reduces the cost of servicing the operator’s clients, and the cost of reaching new clients – even the most remote ones. Instead of endangering competition between operators, it enhances it, since operators must provide better, more innovative, services to compete effectively. The CDMA 450 MHz project has brought together local partners, Brazilian-made products and locally developed content to provide fast, easy, cost-effective implementation. CDMA 450 is a solution that ably meets Brazil’s infrastructure requirements for broadband access. It can help put the government’s plans for digital inclusion, and for social and economic development, into practice. CDMA 450 MHz solution is an efficient, low cost, way to expand the capillarity of existing networks, facilitate the adoption of broadband and third generation (3G) services and enable providers to extend communications services to remote sparsely populated regions. By providing modern, efficient voice and data services to individuals, communities, businesses and government it can be a powerful tool for digital inclusion and economic and social growth.

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