Director general, Grupo Salinas Telecom, Colombia: “Under-served areas have high growth potential”
Samer Salameh is director general, Grupo Salinas Telecom, Colombia and is taking part in a panel discussion on innovative business models on Day One of the Broadband World Forum 2012. Ahead of the show we speak to him about the major milestones that company has reached over the past year and what its major challenges for the future.
What were the major milestones for you over the past year?
2011 centered mostly on the mobile internet market. As 2011 was the year in which internet mobile connections doubled fixed internet connections last year could be seen as the year in which the mobile internet market began its massive growth. It was also the first year in which sales of regular mobile phones remained almost stagnant, while smartphone sales grew more than 60 per cent. This same year is the first time that applications downloaded from Android devices were more than those downloaded from iOS platforms.
Where should investments be made right now? In FTTC or in FTTH?
The current and future needs for home bandwidth and the benefits of optical fibre, in terms of cost and low attenuations, make it worth thinking about FTTH. However, FTTC +HFC costs are still a great alternative to deliver great bandwidth and optimise costs. New investments could be better allocated to infrastructure that provides more integrated and mobile services.
Net neutrality is of concern politically right now. Where do you stand on this issue?
Net neutrality is fundamental for telecommunications development, as new and evolved platforms are able to offer different kind of services, applications and content over the same infrastructure. It is economically inefficient, in most cases, to deploy new infrastructure where it is already deployed. Efforts should be focused in offering new, cheaper and innovative services to final customer.
What’s your strategy around bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?
Our strategy is to focus on optimising our infrastructure and providing innovative and relevant services to end users in all segments. As demand for greater bandwidths increases we will have to adjust our business model and infrastructure deployment to allow for higher bandwidth usage. We do also expect a fair use of our service from our clients.
How important are network sharing agreements necessary for the economical roll-out of LTE?
They are extremely important. They are an incentive for operators to enter the mobile market, which increases competition and brings new dynamics to the market. As the need for CAPEX requirements to launch mobile services is reduced, new entrants ensure that there are greater efforts to launch more innovative services with a faster time-to-market. Moreover, it could be an important opportunity for existing operators to increase their returns on existing infrastructure, maximising their use of their network capability.
How important is it to have a strategy to provide internet access to those who live in areas that are generally underserved by ISPs?
New technologies and government subsidies will enable cost-effective solutions to reach communities that are currently underserved. It is important for an operator to consider all markets and imperative for it to have a strategy to capitalise on those opportunities. Under-served telecom areas could have high growth potential.
Why is your attendance at this event so important for you and your company and what aspect are you looking forward to most?
As visionaries from all over the world gather to exchange experiences and knowledge and debate the most relevant topics in broadband services and applications it becomes very important for companies like ours to be part of this kind of environment that help to give shape to the future of broadband in the world.