Lyin’ in the sun

Posted on Thursday, September 06, 2018

I’m not actually lying in the sun (although the weather in Bogotá is better than it has been) and I am not being lazy. But no ‘grand idea’ suggested itself for today so here are a bunch of random notes inspired by recent tweets / events AS IF I had been just “lyin’ in the sun and listen’ to rock and roll” instead having to “work so hard”.

Prenuptial agreement?

As I have commented before, the change of government in Colombia has the telecom industry hopeful that things will be more collaborative and less confrontational than they were with the last group.

With President Juan Manuel Santos focused almost entirely on peace negotiations with the FARC guerrilla group (insert shameless plug for my new book), the xenophobic Finance Minister, Mauricio Cárdenas, was left to run the rest of the show. He encouraged the regulator to grind down tariffs and rip-off the operators (who are multinationals with a few exceptions), resulting in a three-year slide in Capex.

The new Minister, Silvia Constaín, has recognized the challenge (although she has yet to admit the State’s responsibility) and says she wants to be “married” to the industry to get things moving again.

I am in favor of that but last week the President of TIGOUNE, Marcelo Cataldo, told Convergencia Latina that he was giving the new government “all of his support”.

Isn’t this a bit premature?

The Minister has only talked about marriage. She has not made a proposal. There may have been some flirting in the past month and perhaps even a tete-a-tete over coffee, but as far as I know, we do not know how many guests will be invited to the ceremony from each side, where the reception will take place or what kind of music will be played, let alone any discussion of a dowry or how the existing assets and liabilities will be shared.

I think Cataldo should have been a bit more coy. Falling in love is one thing but organizing a marriage should be done with a cooler head.


5G F1

In a presentation on 5G in Latin America I did last year, I talked about “Prestige” launches where the purpose was nothing more than to get one’s name in the press: one or two base stations, no real commercial offer, just a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the politicians and then go back to the day-to-day grind of rolling out 4G.

My then-employer preferred the name “Prestige” to my working title, “Testosterone”.

This week we had two “First in Europe!!!” announcements and if this were really something serious, the lawyers would already be hard at work organizing lawsuits to decide who, in fact is, or will be, first.

The priority in terms of press articles that I saw (a dubious criterion) was San Marino. TIM says the miniscule “Most Serene Republic” will be the “First in Europe!!!” with 5G. The next day, Telia announced that 5G was already working in Helsinki somewhat stealing San Marino’s thunder.

TIM’s declaration was that San Marino was the first 5G State in Europe; Helsinki being merely a city.

Of course, Helsinki has 10 times the surface area and nearly 20 times the population, so San Marino’s sovereign status justifies the press release but hardly makes the scope of the launch comparable.

José Otero of 5G America’s replied to my tweets pointing out that these two were “Disputing the 5G 4th place behind Qatar, UAE and Saudia Arabia….”.

Seeing the UAE on José’s list got me thinking about other city-states with F1 races and 5G aspirations – although San Marino is more of a town-state or even “bucolic-rural-state”. Let us call them ‘microstates’ to avoid unnecessary offense.

Microstates with F1 races include Bahrain, Monaco, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. The ‘San Marino Gran Prix’ is in fact the ‘Italian Gran Prix’. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is definitely in the 5G sweepstakes; Singapore will be an early launcher.

Changing series but not sports, I have seen Indianapolis, Indiana mentioned for 5G, at least at the Indianapolis 500 race next May.

Sporting events, especially auto races, make great venues for 5G trials: lots of video, high volume telemetry from the cars and high speeds that show off the new technology’s distinctive features.

Unfortunately, there is no Finnish Gran Prix in Helsinki. (Although there should be. Just imagine those very British race announcers saying “And with only two laps to go, it’s a sprint to the Finnish!” Sorry.)

Finland does, however have two top-five F1 drivers: Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas. As far as I can tell, neither have anything to do with either Telia or 5G.

The analogy would suggest that the first two launch points in Latin America should be Sao Paulo (Brazilian Gran Prix in Interlagos) and Mexico City (Mexican Gran Prix). No confirmed rumors yet although obviously I am trying to provoke some with this note.


Critical communications critique

This deserves much more space, but on Tuesday I watched Ken Rehbehn of CritComm Insights give a GSMA webinar on Private LTE for critical communications especially emergency communications.

It may just be me, but I do not hear this being talked about in Latin America, even though earthquakes and hurricanes and conflicts and (this week) tragic fires show that the need is very great.

Years ago, I was involved in a specification for a 123 (aka 911) system for Bogotá. The spec included the communication network for police, firefighters, what are now known as ‘first responders’. A lot of work was done to look ahead at future needs. It was very well done and eventually presented to the then-mayor, Lucho Garzón. Work began on turning the spec into a tender.

Then the American Embassy called the Colombian President at the time, Álvaro Uribe, and said (essentially) “Buy Motorola or else…”

My guess is that did not just happen here.


(Title reference: I know. I know. Most of you did not grow up in the 70’s in English Canada and so Lighthouse’s Sunny Days means nothing to you. Sorry. But look on the bright (sunny?) side. By me chasing down these nostalgic – for me anyway – references you get to hear music you had not heard before!)

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