Why is Peru characterized by lower telecoms penetration rates compared to its regional neighbors?
Peru has a complex geography. The main problem is that the population is concentrated on the shore, with the highlands and jungles less populated and less attended to in terms of services and infrastructure. With one-third of the population in Lima and 60-70% of the GDP coming from the shoreline areas, there is a huge discrepancy in coverage and development across the country, which is not a favorable structure in terms of growing and increasing services, at least not through an open market. That is why FITEL's projects are crucial. The state has to bring the infrastructure to those areas and reduce the gaps in the country so that companies can serve greater parts of the population and other areas of the country. There are up to 1.5 million people who receive no telecoms coverage at all. The situation is better than it was before, of course, but it is still underdeveloped. The next step, once the infrastructure is in place, is to meet demand, educate students and the population, and deliver the necessary telecoms services to them. In the four regions where we are active, we will provide around 450,000 tablets. The next step is services, including education about the internet, data, remote education, e-health, and e-government services that will improve the quality of life of the population and give them a reason and desire to use the internet. FITEL's first goal 16-17 years ago was to reduce the distance a villager walks to a phone from 50km to an average 5km, so we installed many public phones around the country. After all, most villagers have a relative who has left for the city. Everyone has someone outside the village, and everyone has someone to call and talk to. As with phone usage, they now also have the money to use the internet, the means, the technology, and the reason to use it. We want to do the same with internet access for the average Peruvian that we did with phones.
How much do you invest in R&D to maintain your competitive edge?
We are the most advanced in satellite communications technology-wise. We have the most advanced R&D in the market with the fastest return channels to reach higher speeds everywhere, a big advantage, especially with the new generation of satellites with higher capacity. Our terminals bring more capacity everywhere in the world. We are also at the forefront in terms of mobility. We have special antennas and equipment that provide communication from moving platforms like planes and ships. In Peru, our knowledge is more on the operative level. There are many regulatory aspects. In order to incentivize growth in rural areas, knowing the right way to implement universal service programs throughout the country, the laws required to be successful in that country, the right market conditions, regulations, and tariffs are all crucial, and we have that knowledge base, and the government works closely with us to provide the right conditions to achieve these long-term strategic goals that it has set for the country. Everything we do ultimately has a social impact by improving communication and connectivity. We offer more than just economics; it is also a social and human service. That also naturally translates into economic development. We also have a great operation in Colombia and are considering advancing and expanding into other areas. We have networks deployed in more than 90 countries worldwide, so growth is a natural part of our corporate agenda. We look at which countries and regions are ready for what we provide.