Ecuador aims to improve internet access during pandemic

Ecuador is the latest addition to the list of countries releasing or allocating extra spectrum to its operators to cope with growing data demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s Ministry of Telecommunications & Information Society (Mintel) has targeted what are described as underserved parishes. There are some 369 such parishes in total, for which Mintel has announced several measures intended to improve internet access.

Among the resolutions Mintel has announced are plans to temporarily allocate mobile spectrum to "improve service capacity and quality". This follows a 40 percent increase in data traffic since the start of the health crisis. The temporary spectrum will be available for a year.

The country's telecommunications regulator ARCOTEL will be tasked with ensuring that operators accessing these additional frequencies do actually improve service coverage.

But these are not the only measures in place or planned. Other measures include simplifying procedures for granting licences to small ISPs, implementing cheaper tariffs, enabling the installation of shared infrastructure on government property, and steps to facilitate the importation and approval of telecoms equipment.

An interesting further measure will be the provision of additional free Wi-Fi hotspots powered by the networks of universities, government offices and other public sector institutions.

This impressive Ecuadorian response to the ongoing capacity crunch is not the only one on which we have reported recently. In South Africa MTN Group, Vodacom, Telkom, Liquid Telecom and Rain Networks have all been granted temporary additional spectrum. Zimbabwe has also announced plans to free up spectrum for emergency use. The Ghanaian telecommunications regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA,) has temporarily granted Vodafone and MTN Ghana additional spectrum. And Peru’s National Fibre Optic Backbone will be used to carry data traffic from public institutions to relieve congestion on other networks. 

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