Chiloe Island, Chile, Jan 24 (EFE).- Chile’s government and the WOM telecommunications company on Tuesday inaugurated the first 5G cell tower in Dalcahue, a commune on Chiloe Island.
The initiative is part of a plan to bring connectivity and promote education and entrepreneurship in the most isolated areas of the country.
“This project is important because it allows advances in reducing the existing digital gap between the big cities and the smallest towns,” Pablo Joost, new technologies and telecommunications delegate for the Los Lagos region, which includes Chiloe Island, told Efe.
Under this public-private initiative, the state grants business rights to companies, which in turn are required to build out infrastructure to isolated communities.
Joost said the plan has already helped bring connectivity to more than 300 small towns throughout Chile and that in the coming years it is expected to bring an additional 46 mostly 4G cell towers to an equal number of isolated areas across Chile, including Teguel, a rural village in Dalcahue that is home to just 400 people.
Under the project, telecommunications companies not only must install the tower and properly maintain it for three decades, but, as in the case of WOM’s contract on Chiloe – the largest island of the Chiloe Archipelago, which is located off the west coast of Chile – they must provide training in digital knowledge and tools to local communities.
“It’s not just about connectivity with the tower, but rather this also leads to the development of digital skills workshops for the local community. We’re signing an agreement with local residents to develop these digital literacy workshops so people learn to use the technology,” Catalina Achermann, WOM’s vice president of corporate affairs and sustainability, told Efe.
“Understanding how to access the public services, how to access education, health, improving people’s quality of life, even developing new services and ventures,” she added.
According to a study that drew on data from a score of countries between 2010 and 2018 and was published Tuesday by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), a 1 percent increase in mobile broadband penetration generates an increase of 0.23 percent in the region’s gross domestic product.
An expansion of 1 percent in fixed broadband penetration, meanwhile, increases GDP by 0.31 percent, the study said. EFE