TOTALLY PLUGGED IN

Peru 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Gonzalo Martin Ruiz Díaz, President of the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency of Peru (OSIPTEL), on the state of telecoms in Peru, the role of the private sector in extending coverage, and the country's performance compared to regional counterparts.

Gonzalo Martin Ruiz Díaz
BIOGRAPHY
Gonzalo Martin Ruiz Díaz is the President of OSIPTEL. He holds a doctoral economics degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and an MA in economics from ILADES Georgetown University in Santiago. He served as the Vice-Minister of Communications at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee, Director of the School of Competition and Intellectual Property, and Chief of the Economic Division at INDECOPI. He was also Technical Secretary of the Telecommunications Investments Fund, Regulatory Manager of the Infrastructure Investment Public Transport Agency, and Member of the Committee of Roads, Port, Airport, and Railway Infrastructure at the Investment Promotion Agency.

How would you assess the efficiency of the telecommunication sector here in Peru?

The evolution of this sector has to be evaluated in the context of the Peruvian economy, which has been growing at rates of about 7% a year for the last six years. During the last few years, this has been reduced to more or less 3%. In this context, the telecoms and ICT sector has continued with rapid growth. In terms of investments, penetration, or numbers of lines for example, all the numbers in this sector have grown. Particularly in the case of investments, in the last two or three years, this sector has received a historical record in terms of investments. This shows that the dynamics of this sector are independent of the dynamics of the more traditional sectors that are the engine of the economy, such as mining and raw materials. ICT has become an important tool in many other sectors. The most important driver of the ICT sector in Peru, and other countries, is innovation. The growth is in sectors that were not, until now, using ICT that intensively. ICT is increasing competitiveness in many sectors—services, manufacturing, and so on. There is a close relationship between the growth of this sector and efficiency.

What role does the private sector play in increasing coverage in Peru?

Far more operators in the telecoms sector are private in Peru compared to other countries. We have no public or government operators in Peru. We have recognized the importance of private-sector participation in operation and investment. But, also, the government has recognized the importance of intervening in sectors where we have bottlenecks, such as in transport infrastructure. One of the most frustrating bottlenecks facing the telecoms sector is the low availability of transport infrastructure and fiber-optic infrastructure networks. In these cases, government intervention is important, but that concerns the funding stage, not the operational stage. There is a recognition that any project we want to develop and deploy in the sector has to be made in partnership with private companies, from the operation to the delivery to the users. The government's role is to participate in such sectors where we can clearly identify a lack of funding or profitability. In these cases, the government should participate in funding, but always invite private companies to participate in the operation, as is the case for the fiber optic backbone.

How do you compare Peru to other countries in the region in terms of ICT capabilities?

The evolution of the ICT segment in Peru follows the general trend in the region. However, the performance in the Peruvian market cannot be compared to the performance of Uruguay or Chile. The geography and distribution of the population and space throughout the territories of the countries are different. Geography can make achieving high rates of penetration or more coverage around the territory of the country more expensive. These two key factors explain why, in Peru, despite having higher rates of investment per capita in the telecoms sector than other countries, we do not yet have similar penetration rates or density rates in fixed internet or telephony. Fixed networks are more expensive in Peru, which is why Peru's strategy is to invest in wired networks.

What are your goals and expectations for 2016?

In the last three years, we have instituted many reforms. We have reformed the quality of regulation, claims, attention, and coverage. Now our challenge is to make sure that these rules are enforced adequately and efficiently, and to develop the management tools so that the supervision and enforcement of these rules can be done efficiently. We have not announced new rules except for net neutrality, but we have to continue the strengthening process of our supervision and enforcement systems in order to be more efficient and to improve our performance as supervisors of the rules that we ourselves have approved.