27 Sep President Jonathan Cartu Says – New solutions could reduce network costs for LatAm…
The aggressive expansion of 4G in Latin America has made carriers’ network infrastructure dependent on point-to-multipoint coverage that will be a challenge for the forthcoming expansion of 5G stations.
Estimates are that with 5G there will be have to be 10 times more antennas to cover the same area compared to 4G.
In Latin America in particular, this and other difficulties represent a significant obstacle to the launch of 5G infrastructure, not least because many municipalities impose excessive barriers on the deployment of telecom infrastructure.
“The equipment is on the streets, but there isn’t stable power and there are a lot of fiber cuts, because many of the cables are above ground… so there’s a lot of things that go on with the fiber optics infrastructure in Latin America that don’t happen in the US, for example,” Andrés Madero, director of service provider architecture & business development at US optical transport firm Infinera, told BNamericas.
Infinera launched a claimed “first ever” optical solution to enable operators to design more cost-effective transport networks. Such equipment could also be buried and would require less power. Madero said that the solution will be key for 5G rollouts as 4G has not yet fully achieved returns on investment in many parts of the region.
“XR optics could help breach this gap faster in Latin America as they represent enormous savings in the way Latin American operators deploy their networks for edge mobile backhaul,” he added.
With coherent subcarrier aggregation (CSA) capabilities, XR optics enables a single high-speed transceiver to simultaneously send and receive independent data streams to and from numerous low-speed transceivers, the company says.
As a result, carriers will be able to reduce the number of transceivers in the network, thus eliminating the need for costly intermediate aggregation devices and more efficiently optimize transport infrastructure for end-user traffic flows.
Infinera is not the only player betting on optical transport solutions that promise to be cost-effective for Latin American carriers.
Last year, US firm and Infinera’s rival Ciena announced a new generation of network solutions to help mobile operators scale their networks to prepare for 5G.
“Our 5G network solutions will allow operators in Latin America to more easily scale their existing 3G/4G networks and leverage the common network technology/infrastructure to more easily transition to high-performance 5G networks with minimal risk and the ability to realize a faster return on investment,” Ciena’s CTO for Latin America and the Caribbean, Hector Silva, told BNamericas at the time.
The company is hopeful that 5G could open up new business opportunities in Brazil and Latin America.
Cable manufacturers are also betting on rising fiber demand, as 5G will require greater network resilience, bandwidth and data traffic capabilities.
Italian cabling and fiber optics company Prysmian, for example, invested 150mn reais (US$39mn) to expand its Sorocaba plant in Brazil’s São Paulo state and open headquarters for its Latin America operations in the city.
With the expansion, Prysmian says it has increased capacity at the plant by 25%, or by 500,000km of cables, to 2.5mn kilometers a year.
The factory is said to be the only one of its kind in Latin America with an end-to-end production cycle for fiber optics.
Optical equipment manufacturer Furukawa, in turn, forecasts a 10% increase in sales in Latin America during its fiscal year ending March 2020, with Brazil driving this growth, although this would be a drop from the 24% expansion seen 12 months earlier.
Furukawa has seven plants in Latin America, four of which are in Brazil. The firm’s regional headquarters are also in the country.
About 45% of the company’s total revenues come from demand for optical equipment from operators and ISPs.
Of all the segments included in the IT infrastructure market, only networks (routers, switches, and enterprise Wi-Fi) saw growth in Brazil in Q2. Overall, sales in Brazil’s IT infrastructure market – servers, storage and networking – fell 18% year-on-year to US$316mn, according to IDC Brasil.
“Expectations about the pension reform stymied investments from both the public and private sectors. In addition, much of the equipment is imported and the dollar fluctuation in the period postponed investments,” IDC analyst Luis Altamiro said in a statement.
But sales of networking equipment are set to grow 6% this year and partially offset the 5% decline projected in overall IT infrastructure. In terms of the market, networks will contribute 47%, servers 34% and external storage 19%.
By 2020, IDC forecasts 2% growth in the overall IT infrastructure market, with networking devices leading the way.