In June 2023, the US Embassy in El Salvador invited to participate in the El Salvador-US Technology Forum: Advancing Innovation and Economic Growth. The Forum addressed several topics, such as: El Salvador and the Innovation Economy, Next Generation Connectivity as an Enabler of Innovation and Economic Growth, and Securing Digital Economies, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy.
It was striking to hear how all topics were linked to new mobility and connectivity technologies. And for that it is necessary to understand the background. 5G is currently the cutting-edge technology. The name 5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile networks as we know it. This new mobile technology is already here and has served to increase connection speeds, minimize latency (web response time) and exponentially multiply the number of connected devices. In other words, with 5G technology we will be connected to everything, all day long, and in the shortest possible time. The most significant breakthrough will come in terms of speed and will enable, among other things, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles and the metaverse.
However, there is already talk of 6G, a technology that enables a faster network and fully incorporates Artificial Intelligence; this is achieved by reducing latency. According to the Forum panelists, these quantum leaps are taking place in approximately 10-year time spans, so we can expect 6G to be fully operational by 2030.
The implementation of each new technology standard requires huge global collaborations between research institutes, telecommunications giants, semiconductor manufacturers, hardware and software developers and, why not, governments.
As a corollary, it was brought up that by 2025 there will be a deficit of 4 million programmers worldwide, which opens up many opportunities for the development of El Salvador, as long as progress is made in the regional harmonization of standards that allow the viability of 6G, providing accessible connectivity for most of the population, access to all technologies and managing to convert all this into economic impact.
The key to the issue, according to speakers at the forum, is to leave the 1200 MHz radio local area network (RLAN) open and exempt from government licensing; in other words, not to privatize this bandwidth of the radio electric spectrum. And this involves public policy and the willingness of regulators to ensure that the entire 1200 MHz spectrum is not subject to licensing and permitting, but can be used freely by all interested parties, since it is the 1200 MHz band that is needed to supply these new technologies with adequate spectrum. Lower bandwidths cannot support these developments, and those who are knowledgeable on the subject advocate that this bandwidth should be free to use, not subject to licensing or government control.
Hence the interest in this Forum and the presence of the Minister of Economy, the General Superintendent of Electricity and Telecommunications, as well as representatives of the Attorney General's Office and other government agencies. We will be watching to see what attitude the government adopts in this regard, whether it leaves the 1200 MHz band open or whether it regulates it and subjects it to licensing.