NATIONAL SCIENCE

Piñera Announces US$3 Billion Investment In 5G Network

SANTIAGO — On Monday, Aug. 17, President Sebastián Piñera announced public bidding for building a 5G network. The head of state said the investment, for the next five years, would be about US$ 3 billion. “Our lives will change,” he said.

Chile hopes to take a great leap forward in technology. On Aug. 17, President Sebastián Piñera announced the start of public bidding to build a 5G network throughout the country. “This will allow us to advance in things like smart cities, modernization of the state, telemedicine (among other things),” he said.

According to the president, the 5G network will be 10 times faster and have 100 times more capacity than the current 4G network. This technology will also facilitate mass telecommuting and distance education, the government explained.

As for the investment the implementation of this network represents, Piñera said it was estimated at US$3 billion. However, Rodrigo Ramírez, President of the Chilean Chamber of Digital Infrastructure and former Telecommunications Undersecretary, told Chile Today another US$2.5 billion should be added for the deployment of the optical fiber. “That means an investment of around US$6 billion in total. A historical landmark,” Ramírez said.

South Korea, the United States of America, and Finland are among the countries that already have this technology. In Chile, the government said 5G network is expected to be available in different places of the country before Piñera’s term ends in 2022.

Benefits Of 5G

The 5G network is expected to speed up content downloads and communication between devices, but that is not the main objective. According to Ramírez, 5G is intended for industrial uses. This technology “is not so that people can download a movie faster … the focus is on vertical uses such as mining, logistics, agriculture, the manufacturing industry, among others. All 5G pilots in the world are designed to develop new networks for these industries,” Ramírez said.

In yesterday’s announcement, President Piñera also talked about the improvements in the industrial sectors. He emphasized that the network would “become a strong engine of job creation,” reactivating the economy in the middle of the financial crisis the country is facing. The 5G network will also help the advance towards smart cities. This will be possible because the new technology will allow vehicles to interact on the road avoiding accidents and traffic and optimizing the use of highways.

Another improvement, Piñera said, will be seen in e-commerce, where “the Transoceanic Cable project will become a high-speed digital highway for trade between Chile … and Asia,” explained the president in his announcement.

There are currently 30,000 antennas throughout the country and the implementation of this new technology will require double that. Piñera said they would prioritize implementing the 5G technology in health, education, transportation, and natural disaster management sectors.

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Public Bidding

The implementation of the 5G network will start with a process of public bidding. Piñera set four characteristics for participants: quality, neutrality, coverage, and security; and, as for coverage, it will have to reach at least 90 percent of the country’s inhabitants.

The bid solicitation process will consist of two phases. In the first, the aim will be to ensure that “all applicants meet the requirements of quality and coverage,” explained Piñera. In the second, the goal will be to obtain the best economic terms possible. To ensure coverage, the president said that companies are obliged to connect the regional and provincial capitals, public institutions (such as ministries and municipalities), and the country’s hospital network.

Piñera also added that the idea behind this bidding is to “strengthen the digital infrastructure of the country in the face of the challenges of the technological revolution.” Companies interested in participating will have to submit their application Oct. 13-19, through the Telecommunications Undersecretariat website.

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