A public-private initiative delivers mobile broadband coverage to Chile’s sparse rural population, increasing productivity and enhancing quality of life.
Chile’s geography is unique. Its rural communities are isolated by huge distances and hostile terrain. In a bid to improve quality of life and boost GDP, the Government of Chile initiated a public-private partnership to deliver mobile broadband coverage to over 90 percent of the country’s rural population.
By bringing together the public and private sectors, the project was able to fill the commercial gap which often leaves rural areas without a high-quality connection. Pedro Pablo Errázuriz, Minister for Telecommunications and Transport, Chile explains how this setup helps to meet the project’s goals: "In the main cities you have companies fighting and competing to produce good services, but with areas in which demand is low you need an extra effort. The idea was to have a public-private relationship to go and serve those areas. Our initial estimate when we started the project was that for every 10 percent increase in connectivity we would gain 1.5 percent in productivity."
Entel and Ericsson put in a united bid for the project. The two companies have been in a strategic partnership since 1997, so their collaborative involvement was a natural step. Antonio Buchi, CEO, Entel explains the thinking behind the proposal and the joint approach: "For not very dense areas of population, the wireless network that we proposed was the best alternative. Ericsson was chosen because of its experience in these kind of networks, its technical abilities and its ability to become a partner for an operator like us."
Based on a strong commercial offer and a belief that the collaboration would deliver the project successfully, Entel and Ericsson’s bid was successful and the work began.
With the financial backing of the government, Ericsson took full responsibility for the roll-out of the network, while Entel focused on service provision. Nicolás Brancoli, Head of Customer Unit Chile, Ecuador & Peru, Ericsson details the setup: "We provide everything, from looking for the right sites at the places the government asked to have broadband, until the network is optimized and is in operation.
"The key is to have a ‘golden triangle’ – government, operator and provider – with the same vision. Together we can bring actual practical benefits to people and towns that don’t have broadband today, and that will make a difference."
The solution provides Chile’s rural communities with top-quality access on a par with its main cities. This enables the provision of critical services in areas including education, health and governance. It also provides new opportunities for local businesses who can leverage the benefits of connectivity.
These possibilities improve rural quality of life and will help to quash Chile’s trend of urbanization. They also boost productivity outside of the main cities, ultimately increasing Chile’s GDP.
The public-private partnership provides a model to follow for other nations around the world, says Antonio Buchi: "This project is a milestone for Chilean connectivity. It can be replicated in countries that have connectivity challenges and low coverage of fixed-line telecommunications."
Entel is the leading mobile operator in Chile. It has a fully converged offering spanning mobile broadband, fixed broadband and telephony.
Entel was created in 1964 following a large earthquake. Its inception was a government initiative to replace the infrastructure damaged by the disaster at the same time as improving telecom quality.
Around 20 years later the organization was privatized into separate mobile and fixed businesses, which were later brought together within the Entel brand. Throughout these developments it has remained committed to its goal of connecting the people of Chile.
Provide mobile broadband coverage to Chile’s rural population.
Work in partnership with the Government of Chile and Ericsson to achieve the right commercial model.
Over 90 percent of rural population connected.
Cutting-edge service provision.
End-to-end project delivery, including civil works, implementation, integration and activation services.
A complete mobile broadband network, including main remote base stations for 2G and 3G/HSPA, MINI-LINK microwave transmission and core network.
Ericsson’s commitment meant that Entel could focus on service provision and enabled the pair to approach the Government of Chile with a truly world-leading offer.
Chaca is a desert valley some 1,630 km from Santiago, home to a farming population of 120. Hugo Cerola Meoline is the only professor in the local primary school, and its 12 pupils come from throughout the valley. The school bus starts its journey two hours before lessons begin. The driver sounds the horn to wake up the children as he makes his way down the valley and then drives back again towards the school with the children.
Mobile broadband gives the children a range of possibilities, says Hugo: "It opens a window to the world, but it also motivates the students. They long to get connected again and again, not only for education but also for enjoyment."
Even more significantly for Hugo, it changes the way he teaches: "As a professor, connectivity brings me greater possibilities. For example, a video can show much more than I can explain with words. One example of that was the soccer World Cup: the students could use mobile broadband to visit South Africa, learn about the country and see what happened during the event."