The Chilean government, Chile's telecommunications company Entel and Ericsson are implementing a project to provide three million people in remote rural Chile with mobile broadband and mobile telephony by the end of 2011. In 2009, Entel and Ericsson won a $45 M public contract from the Chilean government to provide broadband access between 70 and 90 percent of the rural population. The two-year end-to-end project includes deployment of core and radio access networks for both 2G and 3G.
The first stage of the project – Rural Internet Network: All Chile Communicated – was completed in September 2010, by which time 1.7 million people had been connected. Increasing mobile penetration and reducing the digital divide will not only spur economic growth, but also empower people in these low-income areas by providing them with all that the online world can offer in terms of education, job creation and improved quality of life.
Felipe Morande, Chile's Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, said, "This advance in communication is a historic moment because it will completely change remote rural areas and open up opportunities for millions of people."
For the project Ericsson is building, integrating and activating 2G and 3G at about 1,500 rural locations by deploying its main remote base stations, many of the sites for which need to be developed from scratch. Testing and verifying of the radio network to ensure it is performing in line with regulator requirements is also included in the deal, along with the MINI-LINK microwave transmission solution, a key component that enables a quick rollout of mobile broadband in rural areas with challenging terrain.
Nicolas Brancoli, President of Ericsson Chile, commented, "This project marks a new milestone in public-private partnerships in Latin America because we're collaborating in the financing and the development of this connectivity plan. Research shows that a 10 percent increase in mobile penetration in developing countries leads to a 1.2 percent increase in gross domestic product. We hope this project will reduce the digital divide and help increase social and economic empowerment in Chile's developing regions."