Home Latin America 2012 Mobile broadband: Changing how people live, learn and work

Mobile broadband: Changing how people live, learn and work

by david.nunes
Rafael SteinhauserIssue:Latin America 2012
Article no.:13
Topic:Mobile broadband: Changing how people live, learn and work
Author:Rafael Steinhauser
Title:Senior Vice President & President
Organisation:Qualcomm Latin America
PDF size:233KB

About author

Rafael Steinhauser is Senior Vice President and President of Qualcomm Latin America. In this position, he is responsible for fostering 3G CDMA and next generation technologies growth in the region. This includes supporting all of Qualcomm’s ecosystem partners and helping to accelerate the adoption of new related services, products and technologies throughout the region. Mr Steinhauser has more than 25 years of sales and executive leadership experience in the high-tech and telecommunications industries in Latin America and Europe.

Prior to his current position at Qualcomm, Mr Steinhauser was the President of Latin America for Acision where he successfully created an independent Latin American structure to accelerate business growth in the region. He also served as president of Nortel Networks and Cisco in Brazil. From 1990 to 2000, Mr Steinhauser was involved with Qualcomm in various capacities, including as head of mobile satellite services for Qualcomm partner Eutelsat in Europe, and then as director of Qualcomm South America and as vice president of Qualcomm Brazil.
Rafael Steinhauser has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Technische Universität Berlin in Germany

Article abstract

Mobile Internet is the unquestionable socio-economic development tool of the century in Latin America, with the power to raise GDP and reach remote communities. For this reason, governments in the region are now actively pursuing ‘the power to do good’ via Mobile Internet initiatives. This article tells the story of several Latin American projects that perform this transformation: in Brazil, e-Government services provide information on an Internet based toll-free basis; in North Mexico, care for diabetes is improved through the Dulce program that uses Mobile Internet for knowledge dissemination to patients and carers; in El-Salvador, the number of criminal incidents are is reduced when they are reported immediately and crime patterns and risk areas are identified; in Brazilian waters, fishermen and oyster cultivators become more productive with real-time information of weather conditions and market prices, and with direct contact with local buyers for the catch of the day.

Full Article

With more than six billion connections worldwide and US$1.3 trillion in annual revenue, mobile telephony is the largest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platform in history. Considering that 80 per cent of the world’s population is covered by a mobile cellular network , and that devices are becoming more and more affordable, mobile has become the most practical and cost-effective solution for providing voice and data communications to the millions of people who live in remote and rural areas where landline access is limited or does not exist.

Smartphones, which deliver increasingly rich experiences, including full web browsing and computing capabilities, high-definition video, 3D gaming, access to social networks and many other compelling services, play an important role in the way people access the Internet. In many parts of the world, smartphones provide the first and only way that people access the Internet. These devices comprise the largest segment of mobile broadband shipments globally. In Brazil, which is leading the mobile revolution in Latin America, the smartphone’s share of monthly 3G handset sales rose from 45 per cent in May 2010 to 87 per cent in May 2012.
The rapid spread of mobile communications, particularly during the last decade, has largely been driven by newer third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband technologies. This trend is expected to continue:

• Mobile data traffic more than doubled in 2010 and is projected to grow 10 to 12 times from 2010 to 2015.
• More than 80 per cent of global broadband connections will be mobile by 2016.
• Mobile is the prevailing platform for computing and Internet in emerging countries, with approximately 64 per cent of total mobile broadband connections residing in emerging regions by end of 2016.
• In Latin America, the world’s third-fastest growing region for mobile broadband, 3G subscriptions are expected to grow an estimated 379 per cent from 2010 to 2015.

In many ways, mobile broadband technology has become an economic development tool for the 21st century. According to The World Bank, a 10 per cent increase in mobile phone penetration increases per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by nearly 1 per cent in developing countries. A 10 per cent increase in Internet penetration increases per capita GDP by 1.4 per cent in those countries. Also in developing countries, women who own mobile phones benefit greatly from improved access to educational, health, business and employment opportunities . When considering this interesting data, it is not surprising that governments around the world are paying close attention to their ICT plans and are committed to continue expanding their technology and telecommunications infrastructure in a massive way. In Latin America there are also some notable examples:

Free e-Government
Brazil is leading the way not just with rapid deployment of 3G networks and smartphones, but also with the country’s national Broadband program, PNBL (Plana Nacional de Banda Larga) – ‘Connected Brazil’. Some of the objectives of this program are to create opportunities, accelerate economic and social development, promote social inclusion, reduce social and regional differences and promote job creation and capacity-building for the population to use information technologies . Mobile broadband will play a pivotal role in fulfilling PNBL’s goal of a fast Internet for all of Brazil.

Working with various representatives of the Brazilian government, it is reassuring to find that they are open to new ideas and that they are exploring new ways to make ’Connected Brazil’ a reality. This is true in the case of a recently launched pilot program called BL 0800. BL 0800 provides free mobile broadband access to the population in the same way companies offer a customer service toll-free number. The goal of this service is to make it possible for people to access customer services web sites, such as e-government as sales portals, without having to pay for the data consumption.

Several other examples of the use of mobile broadband can be found in Latin America, positively impacting specific sectors. For example in health care, many in communities around the Mexico-U.S. border, which includes approximately 1.2 million residents , suffer from diabetes. Because of distance, public transportation challenges and lack of time, it is extremely difficult for people in underserved communities to visit doctors and nurses.

The Dulce Wireless Tijuana study began in November 2011 at IMSS (Social Security Institute of Mexico) Clinic #27 in Tijuana. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a medical education model and the added use of mobile wireless technology in achieving improved metabolic control for diabetic patients. Patients are randomly assigned to the following three groups:

1) Project Dulce ™ chronic care model, where participants receive clinical treatment by medical and nursing-certified diabetes educators and self-treatment education provided by community workers.
2) Project Dulce plus Technology, which incorporates mobile 3G technology solutions in addition to the clinical and outreach components of the first group
3) The control group.

By comparing these groups, the study will examine whether mobile applications, mobile phones, netbooks, laptops and digital educational content can enable people to wirelessly obtain the care that they could not easily receive otherwise, and empower them to make informed decisions. Participating patients in group two receiving the technology assistance, connect to their health care providers and ‘promotoras’ (health care workers) via their mobile devices, review instruction videos and other diabetes information online, take part in interactive surveys that help health care providers learn how their patients are managing their diabetes and receive notifications from an alert system. Providers and outreach workers use the technology to access patient information in real time, manage patient appointments and review training curriculum. Promotoras, nurses and social workers so far agree that the content accessible on their mobile devices has improved their ability to communicate with and monitor patients.


The costs of crime to business are higher in El Salvador than in any other Latin American country and among the highest in the world. , A 2010 Latin-obarómetro poll revealed that 71 per cent of Salvadoran respondents reported being victims of an assault or crime in the previous year, more than double the average of Latin America. The study also revealed that 43 per cent of Salvadoran respondents claimed violence as the principal problem facing their lives. ,

Through the Seguridad Inalámbrica (Wireless Security) project, Corps of Metropolitan Agents were issued 3G mobile phones equipped with an application for real-time reporting of crimes. Upon arriving at a crime scene, agents use their phones to immediately transmit information regarding the nature and location of the crime to an online database that is shared by multiple law enforcement agencies.

Once the data is received into the database, officials can access it in real time for analysis. The system displays incidents on detailed maps, facilitating the identification of high-risk locations and helping to track changes in crime patterns over time as crime and violence prevention programs are introduced by law enforcement agencies.

Since the project implementation, more than 300 incidents have been logged into the system via the 3G mobile application. Crime information reported by agents in the field is available immediately for analysis by officials in the office, which is a significant improvement over the pre-project situation when data was only sent on a monthly basis for analysis.

Despite Brazil’s extensive coastline, current per capita fish consumption is only 6.8 kg/year, and fisheries and aquaculture account for only 0.4 per cent of the country’s GDP . In some areas, the industry has suffered from over-fishing, lack of investment and obsolete infrastructure. As a result, incomes and opportunities have decreased. The Fishing with 3G Nets project in Santa Cruz Cabralia, Bahia, Brazil, uses 3G mobile technology to enable fishermen and mariculturists (oyster cultivators) to modernise their operations, institutionalise environmentally sustainable fishing tactics and promote sustainable economic development.

Participating fishermen receive 3G mobile devices equipped with a suite of localissed software applications tailored to their needs as well as 24/7 Internet connectivity. The devices enable participants to receive real-time information on weather conditions, track market prices, connect with local buyers for direct sales of the day’s catch through an online marketplace, support governmental sustainable fishing initiatives through statistical tracking and receive technical advice from experts. The devices also enable automatic tracking of income and expenses, allowing the fishers to monitor their profits while at sea. As part of the program, participants also receive IT and sustainability training, access to a community computer lab and a floating classroom where they learn sustainable fishing techniques.

The ‘digital divide’ doesn’t just mean that some people are without a phone or a computer. It means that they are cut off from the tools that could help them develop skills to compete in the 21st century and provide them with new economic opportunities. Despite the rapid growth of mobile broadband, only 16 per cent of households in emerging economies have Internet access, compared to 66 per cent in developed countries .

There is great opportunity to address the needs, challenges and desires of people around the world through technology and we are excited to be part of transforming the way people live, learn and work. Great opportunities are ahead of us. It is only with the collaboration of industry, communities and the government that we will be able to offer a new connected future for the generations to come.


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