Mobile Communications in Mexico in the Latin American Context

Mobile Communications in Mexico in the Latin American Context

Judith Mariscal (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch087
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Abstract

The expansion of the mobile network has a pro-poor tendency; it has provided access to ICT services for those previously excluded from this market. Today, in the age of the Internet and the diffusion of mobile broadband, we are witnessing a new kind of transformation in the lives of the poor. Mobile broadband adoption is replicating at an even faster pace than adoption of mobile telephony. However, there are still challenges ahead for mobile broadband to promote a democratization of the Internet in Latin America: today, mobile broadband penetration is low for Latin American countries, averaging 17%. Besides, the region faces a major constraint in connectivity, where the vast majority of people remain unconnected. The successful appropriation of any ICT requires integral and coordinated polices that include supply and demand variables, where digital skills and valued contents must be promoted.
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Introduction

The growth of the mobile network worldwide since the late 1990s has exceeded any expectations. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there are currently 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions in the world, which closely approaches the world population of 7.1 billion (ITU, 2013). In Latin America, mobile telephony has shown a higher growth rate than the world average; for the first quarter of 2013 it reached 116 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Almost all countries in the region have a penetration above 100 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, with outstanding rates in Chile, Uruguay and El Salvador of 155, 144 and 143, respectively (Wireless Intelligence, 2013).

Moreover, the expansion of the mobile network has a pro-poor tendency that has provided access to telecom services for those previously excluded from this market. Innovative business models such as prepaid, regulatory policies such as calling party pays and strategies used by the poor such as shared use of handsets, texting, ring-call-back and micro-financing of service vendors are some of the mechanisms that have made mobile services affordable to the poor.

Today, in the age of the Internet and the diffusion of mobile broadband, we are witnessing a new kind of transformation in the lives of the poor. Through its ability to carry large volumes of data and deliver advanced applications that have the potential of enhancing benefits in other sectors such as education, health, government and citizen participation, broadband embodies the promises of the information revolution. Mobile broadband adoption is replicating at even faster pace than that of mobile telephony, which promises to reach higher levels of network coverage and lower prices of connection and use in a fairly short period compared with fixed broadband. Moreover, mobile broadband quality is growing at faster pace than fixed; 4G technologies may overpass the penetration and quality of fixed broadband in the short run. If this is to be true, mobile broadband will play a significant role in making available the benefits of Internet to a great majority of the population in Latin America; it will serve as the primary mean of democratizing access and use of ICT's.

This article will identify the existing literature on mobile telephony as well as mobile broadband in developing countries followed by a general overview of the state of the mobile sector in Mexico in the context of the Latin America region. It will identify the current challenges policies face to promote a democratization of the Internet in the region.

Pioneering scholars in the study of mobile impact are: PhD. Robert Jensen (Jensen, 2007) at University of California Los Angeles and PhD. Leonard Waverman (Roller & Waverman, 2001) at McMaster University. Current leading scholars are PhD. Jonathan Donner (Donner, 2008) at Microsoft Research India, Richard Duncombe (Duncombe, 2011) at Manchester University, and Latin American-based research network Dialogo Regional sobre la Sociedad de la Información, DIRSI (Jordán, Galperin and Peres, 2013).

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Overview: Mobile Services And The Underserved Population

Given the dramatic uptake of mobile voice services in the worldwide population, students of ICT found a strong interest in understanding the causes and impacts of this adoption in developing countries. A significant explanatory variable identified by studies were market mechanisms such as pre-paid and calling party pays have significantly contributed to mobile expansion in developing countries (Hodge, 2005; Mariscal & Bonina, 2006; Stork, Esselaar, & Ndiwalana, 2006). A key variable identified with network deployment is competition; the higher degree of competition in the mobile sector relative to the fixed sector played an important role in the growth of mobiles around the world (Petrazzini & Clark, 1996; Wallsten, 2001). This is a result, to a significant degree, of the fact that mobile services were initiated in a more liberalized market than fixed services.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Development: Scholar field of study linked with pursuing higher standards of life.

Mobile Broadband: Mobile Internet accesses at higher speed than traditional Dial-Up connections.

ICT4D: Acronym for Information and Communication Technologies for Development, which comprises a broad community of practitioners and researchers advocated with the use of ICT to face developmental challenges.

Access gap: Social gap between people that have the capabilities to use ICT and people who don’t.

Livelihoods Approach: A people-centered conceptual framework in the scholar field of development.

BoP: Acronym for Bottom of the Pyramid, term used to define the poorest socio-economic group in a society after the application of a given threshold (e.g. people who lives under U.S.$1 per day).

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