Mobile 360 – Latin America 2015: Event Highlights

Delivering unrivalled networking opportunities and a high level discussion of all of the most pertinent topics relevant to the mobile industry in the Latin America region, the GSMA’s inaugural Mobile 360 – Latin America attracted an impressive turnout with delegates hailing from 25 countries. More than 350 senior mobile industry leaders and influencers, regulatory officials and press were in attendance and nearly half of our audience (45%) represented the region’s mobile network operators.

A full image gallery from the event can be found here.

High profile speakers from across the Latin America region delivered eye-opening presentations on a wide range of subjects, including the new opportunities around identity and authentication services (Mobile Connect), mobile money, IP, 4G and M2M communications, digital inclusion and the challenges that new services bring while promoting the “same service, same rules” principle.

Mobile 360 Latin America was inaugurated by Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer of the GSMA, who suggested that due to the changing nature of services and competition, we must think afresh about telecommunications regulations applying the concept of “same service, same rules.” Phillips highlighted that by 2020 the industry will be investing about 200 billion dollars in the deployment of infrastructure in Latin America only. This figure represents “more than the annual GDP of Ecuador and more than twice the GDP of Panama.” However, he noted that “the predicted investment will only succeed if the playing field is fair to all players and that is a challenge in itself, because the future is uncertain and there’s a lot of change in the industry.”

In turn, Rodrigo Abreu, President & CEO of TIM Brasil, highlighted that “the mobile industry is well positioned to provide the digital inclusion that Latin America needs and to benefit users in their day to day life, but the conditions need to exist to enable this.”

Further to this, Juan Abellán, Executive Director of Telefónica Hispanoamerica North, used his keynote speech to emphasize that “regulations should be adapted to reflect the reality of the new digital economy, taking into account that unlike in Europe, in Latin America we are just beginning our dialogue and therefore we have to let the market and the governments know what is happening, so they can learn about the fair rules we are aiming for.”

These Keynote presentations were followed by a very thought-provoking panel discussion on the same topic, in which Fabio Coelho, President of Google Brazil, José Perdomo, CEO of Tigo Paraguay and Juan Pablo Calvo, CEO of Nuevatel Bolivia participated, together with Abellán. Together, the business leaders urged the entire ecosystem to focus on the millions of users that are still without connectivity. Fabio Coelho emphasized the role of his company in empowering the generation of apps and services and indicated that “a democratization of opportunities will generate a more competitive society.”

Another central topic of Mobile 360 – Latin America was the development of sustainable business models of 4G LTE technology in the region, with outstanding presentations from Martin Wessel, Head of Technology Evolution at Telecom Argentina; Jesper Rhode, Head of Marketing, Latin America, Ericsson and Roberto Guenzburger, Director of Mobile Products at Oi. Drawing upon a wealth of experience on this subject from a variety of perspectives, these executives provided a detailed exploration of both the technical and commercial issues required to successfully deploy 4G mobile networks in Latin America.

Martin Wessel chose to highlight “five practical ways to reduce network investment, which may help make this 4G business a sustainable one.” Noting that the main costs in a 4G network are in spectrum acquisitions and the radio network, it was the latter on which the executive’s attention was focused. However, he also cautioned that the cost-cutting approach is “not perfect – it depends on the operators and their requirements in different countries.”

Similarly, Jesper Rhode underlined three categories of operator which have seen success in the recent past, each of which has taken a different route to achieve a strong position in the market. Such success may be predicated by a primary focus upon either network performance, routes to market (sales channels) or upon service propositions.

The event also featured the latest information on Digital Identity (with contributions from Gemalto, Terra, Kuack Media and ComScore) and an update on progress with Mobile Financial Services in the region (featuring a top-notch panel that included Gregory Reeve, COO Mobile Financial Services at Millicom and Marcos Etchegoyen, CEO of Zuum).

“A real, deep understanding” of customer needs is crucial for the success of mobile money services, rather than attempting to use a template to deploy the same solutions across different markets, Greg Reeve, COO Mobile Financial Services at Millicom, advised. “The most important lesson for Tigo in Latin America has been that we have not taken the African model and said ‘have the same model’. What we’ve said is that we need to understand the situation of our customers in each one of our markets, so we can deliver solutions for their pain points, the things that make it difficult for them, so that when we deliver our services they are grabbing them out of our hands,” he said.

Concluding day one of the conference, senior speakers from Qualcomm, Vodafone Brazil, AT&T and Telefónica Vivo debated the best path to success with M2M and the Internet of Things in the region.

On day two of the event, Mobile 360 – Latin America closed with a full day of sessions of GSMA Latin America’s four Operator Expert Working Groups covering Regulatory (REGU), Billing and Roaming (BARG LA), Technical and Terminals (TECT), and Security and Fraud (SEGF) issues in the region.