CONNECTIVITY

Colombia 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to David Luna Sánchez, Minister of ICT, on the ambitious plan to strengthen the quality of education via technology, his plans for mobile broadband communications, and connecting the entire country to the internet.

 David Luna Sánchez
BIOGRAPHY
David Luna Sánchez is a lawyer from the Universidad del Rosario. He is a specialist in administrative law and holds a master’s in government and public policies from Universidad del Externado and from Columbia University. He has been president for environmental organization Capítulo Colombia. He is a professor at various universities and is the author of the book “Starting Point: Nine Proposals for the Governance of Bogotá.”

What is the long-term objective of the government's Computers to Educate program to acquire tablets and computers for schools across the country?

The ICT Ministry seeks to contribute to strengthening the quality of education through technology via the Computers to Educate program. To achieve this, the ministry set aside a budget of COP1.4 billion between 2015 and 2019 to support the education of young Colombians. For this purpose, “Computers to Educate" developed a strategy that includes three aspects: the delivery of technology to educational sites (tablets and laptops acquired through public auctions); training teachers and principals through a certified course after which they will receive a diploma and a tablet as a tool for their work, as well as training parents through the so-called ICT Family School; and dealing with electronic waste as part of our environmental commitment and responsibility. The goal for 2018 is to provide tablets to every teacher in the country's public educational centers and qualify them with an ICT diploma.

What are your plans to support the development of Colombian public television?

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos has made an unprecedented bid to strengthen public television. That effort has resulted in co-productions with world-renowned houses and domestic producers to continue to position public television with high quality content. Since 2010, the government has invested about COP25 billion on a multi-platform content, developed with the support of international production houses, with a scheme that is improving programming and public TV content. In addition, we have opted to strengthen the capacity of personnel involved in these large projects, promoting good practices in television production; and 2016 will be no exception. We continue to focus on the development of a convergent strategy for our public television, increasing the production of local content and strengthening regional TV channels for users to find a wider range of content.

What projects are lined up in the area of mobile broadband communications for 2016?

The award for the best government strategy for managing spectrum, handed out by the World Mobile Operators Association (GSMA), recognized Colombia's excellent management of spectrum. Our strategy aims to ensure the availability of this resource to support the growth of mobile broadband internet connections, which we project to have with the implementation of the “Plan Vive Digital." We have been making projections for spectrum requirements for the next 10 years and these are updated annually. In 2016, plans to continue with this strategy of judiciously studying mobile spectrum needs for the coming years, with an additional component: the study of frequencies for the fifth generation of mobile communications and participation in 5G in international forums such as ITU and CITEL. Colombia expects to continue to have an important role in these discussions. These activities of international participation go hand-in-hand with the management of international agreements for the use of spectrum in several frequency bands to ensure proper provision of telecommunications services in the border areas. In the telecommunications area, in 2016 we have a major challenge: forward the auctioning of 700Mhz band, the most coveted spectrum by mobile operators thanks to its coverage characteristics and propagation. This process will ensure us better telecommunication services for Colombians.

What are your thoughts on the fact that Colombia is now one of the top countries for internet penetration in Latin America?

The work that Colombia has done in the past five years makes us proud. We have worked hard to provide the country with the tools for the digital revolution. We cannot rest on our laurels; we have to bring connectivity to the lower strata, to ensure that all citizens enjoy the benefits of being connected to the network, no matter what area of the country they are in. To do this we have an ambitious plan to increase internet connections from 12 million to 27 million in 2018.