The Dominican Republican is anticipated to launch 5G services during 2021, with the government planning to begin a multi-spectrum tender during the second week of January making it the second country in Latin America who pushes for 5G.
President Luis Abinader said the 5G network will represent a “great step forward” in terms of the digital network and competitiveness for the country.
“We are going to start the bidding for special companies and the terms of reference will be informed. The Indotel (Dominican Institute of Telecommunications) will have it ready for January 13,” Abinader said and reaffirmed the State’s denial for Chinese companies to participate in the process.
He also indicated that this step seeks to optimize distance education and economic development and guarantee equal opportunities and competitiveness to citizens.
According to Australia-based research firm, BuddeComm, the mobile sector has become the preferred platform for voice services – a shared notion with the regional markets surrounding the DR – with LTE services available to about 98 percent of the population, mobile broadband has also developed strongly in recent years.
The country’s unequal distribution of telephony services is a reflection of the population’s income inequality, as many communities struggle with having very limited access.
However, the government has been proactive in recent years in attempting to bridge the digital gap within the DR, in response to the high demand in the wake of the pandemic, with the launch of 5G services to be a part of them.
President Abinader added that these months of a pandemic had highlighted the reality of the Dominican Republic, and the implementation of this plan “is what the country needs to bridge the digital divide.”
Earlier in October 2020, the country’s telecoms regulator issued a decree covering a number of areas, including universal access to broadband services, and the development of a national backbone network in cooperation with the electricity transmission network provider.
“The outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector, to various degrees, is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure,” BuddeComm highlighted in its report.
From a consumer’s perspective, BuddeComm sees that expenditures on telecoms services and devices are under heavy financial pressure due to the COVID-19’s impact on nationwide job losses and restrictions on disposable income.
Indotel reported that Internet access services grew by 0.78 percent in June 2020 and increased by 11.61 percent over June 2019.
“However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for homeworking, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth,” the report explained.
Initially, DR had decided to remain neutral regarding the on-going trade war happening between the U.S. and China, as the country previously announced that the selection of 5G technology would remain in telecommunications companies’ hands, leaving the door open to Chinese investment.
Soon after, however, the government shifted its position with declarations from the nation’s president, as he vetoed Chinese investments in strategic sectors such as ports, airports, and telecommunications.
The move quickly placed the DR among other Western countries that have decided to ban companies such as Huawei and ZTE from their 5G futures.
The Latin American country signed the “Clean Network Protocol” which is the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to safeguarding national assets including citizens’ privacy and companies’ most sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.
“It is critical that the data traveling through the Dominican Republic’s 5G infrastructure remain secure. The Clean Network provides countries and companies with a reliable base to guarantee the safety and security of their most sensitive information,” DR Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Alvarez said during a meeting with the United States’ Under Secretary of State, Mr. Keith Krach.