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International Experts Warn Minimum Internet Speed ​​Law Will Worsen Peru’s Existing Digital Divide

This is a machine translation of the original version of AFIN published in Spanish.

Lima, October 19, 2022.- Several international experts in technology, telecommunications and consumer rights have warned that the Minimum Guaranteed Speed ​​Law, which establishes the increase of the minimum Internet connection speed standard from 40% to 70%, will affect the poorest and deepen the digital divide in Peru.

Specialists agree that, although Law 31207 aims to improve the experience of Internet users, what has been approved by the legislative power will have harmful effects in practice since, contrary to expectations, it seriously harms the end user and the community.

This is based on the fact that hybrid fiber-coaxial or HFC technology is currently the most used by Peruvians to connect to the Internet, especially in urban areas with high traffic, and it is the one that has grown the most. developed in rural areas of the country with the aim of reducing the digital divide. And it is that this technology is characterized by supporting the level of complexity of the geography of the country.

However, this technology does not technically allow an increase in speeds, so the standard would be impractical, which is why this regulation should be changed immediately.

In this regard, Carlos Huamán, CEO of DN Consultores, indicated that in order for the regulations to be respected, it is necessary to achieve symmetry in the download and upload speeds, which can only be achieved with certain technologies and not with all broadband services such as HFCs, for example.

“Optical fiber is the most promising technology for this; however, the percentage of Peruvians who have this service is less than 10%. In fact, Peru is the market with the least penetration of fiber optics in South America and, due to the way the networks are designed, there is no way that this technology can be used to comply with the standard at short term,” Huamán said. said.

Another of the factors they mentioned during the event is that, in practice, the standard makes the Internet connection service more expensive and does not generate real and/or structural changes in the user experience. final. On the contrary, it only manages to stop the various initiatives that were designed to install mobile Internet service in other places in the country which, to date, do not even have a basic mobile phone service.

“State regulatory planning must consider multiple factors to foster and integrate the general population. It is necessary to develop strategic lines for the expansion of telecommunications service, not only for those who already have connectivity but also for those who do not have cell phones, landlines or even electricity. Laws like this only create an even deeper gap,” said Gloria Montoya, public services manager at the ombudsman’s office.

For his part, Manuel Cipriano, former member of the board of directors of OSIPTEL, said that “it’s like buying a car that can go up to 300 kilometers per hour and that we establish by law that it must travel on all roads and highways”. in Peru at less than 210 kilometers per hour (70%), whether it is a highway, a dirt road, a bridleway or if you are on a road rush hour. As can be seen from this example, this is a completely impractical initiative”.

In this sense, Alejandro Adamowicz, director of technology and strategy of the GSMA, said that this standard will reduce investments in greater deployment of optical fiber and new technologies to improve service in rural areas, since this investment will be used to increase capacity in the agglomerations already served to try to reach the speed required by law, without ensuring that this is possible. He indicated that this is extremely serious considering that – according to OSIPTEL figures – in 7 departments of the country, only 10% or less of households have access to fixed internet.

For this reason, this standard violates proposed industry goals to increase the coverage, access, and quality that Peruvians receive. “It is important to highlight that in countries like Ecuador, Mexico or Uruguay, the obligations regarding mobile connectivity are informative in nature. Moreover, there are no regulations in the world establishing a “Minimum Guaranteed Speed” for Internet service, since users are constantly competing for the use of a finite resource (the mobile network) and it is impossible for operators to predict the use that users give to the technology to guarantee a minimum of speed, ”said Adamowicz.

These statements were made during the international event “Bridging the digital divide in Peru: challenges and challenges”, during which the situation of the Internet divide in the country and in Latin America was discussed, organized by the GSMA, an association which represents mobile operators and organizations in the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, as well as the Association for the Promotion of National Infrastructures (AFIN).