Regional Market Trends and Headlines: Latin America

Darren LudingtonBy Darren Ludington, Senior Director of Sales, LatAm, iDirect

Recognizing the significant social and economic benefits, governments across the region have taken the lead in extending broadband Internet services for greater accessibility to the entire population. Today, it’s fair to say that satellite is becoming the standard for rural communications across Latin America.

Satellite offers many advantages to the LatAm region, starting with reliable, immediate coverage. Service providers can deliver high-speed, secure connections to any locale, for any application, creating an intelligent path forward for new distance-learning opportunities, business continuity for retailers, and cost effective mobile backhaul. Read on to hear our take on these trends and more, and visit our expert team this week at Futurecom 2016 – we’ll be at Stand F18, starting today!

Market Headlines: 

Government: New Initiatives Advance Educational Opportunities  

As mentioned, substantial investments by local governments across the region have made access to and use of mobile broadband more pervasive. Today we’re beginning to see a greater level of collaboration between local governments and mobile operators, creating promising new mobile broadband initiatives particularly in education and enterprise markets.

african-internet-cafeResidents in remote Bahía Solano, Colombia, rely on VSAT connectivity provided by SkyNet de Colombia to not only gain knowledge about the world, but to educate the world about their community. Young adults from this community upload their own personal videos so that they can share their experiences with the world.

One such example comes from SkyNet de Colombia, one of the fastest growing satellite operators in Latin America serving markets including government, military, enterprise, and disaster and emergency response agencies. SkyNet is involved in an ambitious government-funded initiative called Kioscos Vive Digital.

Via 640 digital kiosks, SkyNet provides high-speed communications technology benefitting a wide-reaching and varied audience. The project allows government agencies to communicate better and businesses to participate in new international programs. In terms of education, the project enables students to reach higher levels of academic achievement ─ students involved with the Social Internet Project are enrolled in online classes from some of the largest universities in the world via streaming, able to watch YouTube videos for the first time on subjects they never had access to before.


Another such project is the 10k Initiative, a federal scheme within the Mexico Conectado Program. The goal is to deliver internet access across the country via ground and satellite connectivity in order to decrease the digital divide and increase utility services throughout Mexico.

elaraElara VSAT in a rural school in Oaxaca

Elara Comunicaciones, leading satellite communications provider, is 1 of 12 suppliers, involved in this program. The company provides 3,210 VSATs, making up 32.10% of the 10k Initiative and 3.16% of the overall Mexico Conectado Program. Elara’s VSATs are situated throughout six southeastern states (Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo), and exist in schools, health care centers, etc.


VSAT connects those in even the most remote locations. Via Direta deployed the antenna above in Parintins, AM, Brazil, along the Amazon River, as part of a large distance-learning program in Brazil.

In Brazil, Via Direta Telecom, a subsidiary of TV and radio broadcast group Rede Tiradentes de Telecomunicações, enables the largest, most ambitious distance-learning program ever created in the entire country.  The program uses satellite to connect fundamental to high school  students across hundreds of municipalities along the rivers of the Amazon basin with teachers located in Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas.

A network of 1,300 VSAT stations in remote public schools bring high-speed broadband connectivity that spans Brazil. Using iDirect’s Evolution® platform and X1 remotes, Via Direta is able to offer Internet access, long-distance learning programs and virtual tools that provide interactivity among isolated communities. In just one year, the program has brought connectivity to over 200,000 students – that’s a 344% increase since the network was first deployed and connected 45,000 students.

Another terrific benefit of these wide-spread distance learning initiatives is that they’ve created an entire new generation of satellite advocates. A lot of decision-makers today are kids that grew up with satellite Internet at their schools. They believe in satellite from their own personal experience, and the connectivity proved to be stable and acceptable years ago. That factor has only improved since, and will continue to help satellite grow throughout the region well into the next generation of students and beyond.

Retail: Keeping More Stores Open for Business 

According to consulting firm A.T. Kearney’s 2016 Global Retail Development Index, LatAm continues to be a solid, vibrant retail investment opportunity. In ranking the Top 30 developing countries for retail investment worldwide, Peru came in the top 10, with Colombia, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Paraguay all making the list as well.

And as large retailers continue to enter the region (as well as those already doing business in LatAm) satellite is becoming an increasingly attractive, reliable resource. Here’s why:

Ensures immediate connectivity. Retailers looking to set up shop in remote, rural areas no longer have to wait for high-speed terrestrial circuits to (hopefully) arrive. Instead, they can rely on iDirect technology for a speedy connection that provides immediate access to all voice, data and video applications, allowing them to open for business sooner.

Speeds transactions.  iDirect helps get more customer transactions through the register with faster point-of-sale credit card authorizations. A dedicated satellite link eliminates dial-up delays that slow sales and eventually leads to lost revenue.

Reduces Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) compliance risk. As more and more retailers make their products and services available online, protecting personal data becomes a huge concern. iDirect AES encryption helps retailers address complex data encryption compliance requirements by encrypting the transmission of cardholder data and sensitive information across public networks.

And when it comes to disaster recovery, satellite also plays a big role. Every retailer knows a network failure can mean frustrated customers and lost revenue. iDirect is currently supporting two large retail disaster recovery networks with over 1,000 sites each throughout LatAm and Mexico. Partners count on iDirect to provide reliable, secure satellite failover that keeps stores in business through any terrestrial network outage. 

Mobile Backhaul: Explosion in Demand  

Latin America continues to experience extensive mobile broadband network build-outs across multiple countries. Capital investments by operators in the region totaled around $80 billion just between 2009 and 2014 alone, according to GSM Association (GSMA). Still, roughly 64 million people in the region remain without access to a mobile broadband network. In addition, considerable diversity in mobile broadband coverage (3G or higher) exists.

An already vibrant market for mobile backhaul could turn into an explosion of demand in the not-too-distant-future. Today, iDirect partners are already responding to the call. Utilizing their iDirect hub infrastructure and satellite routers, Telefonica Business Solutions is providing satellite backhaul to a major mobile operator in several countries throughout Mexico and South America.

Key to servicing the mobile backhaul market is optimization. Whether it is small cell 2G voice or macro cell 4G/LTE with high data rates, the need to enhance the end-user experience and at the same time reduce the amount of bandwidth needed for voice or data is essential for success.

HTS: Government Satellite Launches on the Rise  

HTS technology can meet rising bandwidth demands and vastly improve capacity economics, positioning satellite as a more cost effective connectivity solution.

New satellites that have or are being launched include:

  • Intelsat 29e, operated by Intelsat
  • Telstar 12 VANTAGE, operated by Telesat
  • Amazonas 5, operated by Hispasat
  • SGDC-1, operated by Telebras
  • ARSAT-1 and ARSAT-2, operated by ARSAT

Individual countries have also realized the potential and are financing their own satellites. Argentina’s current ARSAT-1 and ARSAT-2, as well as Brazil’s future satellite (SGDC-1), are just two examples of governments that are moving in this direction to provide greater coverage to their citizens. Over the next few years, we expect to see even more government satellite launches in response to increasing demands.

My iDirect colleagues and I have had the pleasure of working side by side with our partners across LatAm for more than ten years. We take pride in the opportunity to fully experience and understand this diverse region’s most important market challenges, and together determine the most intelligent path forward. Today, it’s exactly that kind of eye-level view that makes it possible for iDirect to deliver tomorrow’s technology innovations.  To learn more, join us at

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