We share a fragment of the Rolando Guevara (BGBG parter) participation, in which he talks about the compared experience in Latin America and exposes some of the challenges the wireless internet providers face due to the COVID-19 in Mexico.
Regarding the foregoing, in Mexico, the operators agreed with the regulator to offer a low-cost contingency support pack with 2 Mbps and emergency landlines free of charge. Besides, the payment deadline may be deferred at the discretion of the commercial policy of each operator. “We do not want that the subscriber chooses between eating or paying the service”, affirmed Salomón Padilla, Vice-president of the Independent Telecommunications Association of Mexico (ATIM). The executive focuses on the need to retain clients and maintain the service, even if it is minimal, while the health emergency lasts and people find it difficult to pay for the services.
Rolando Guevara, his peer of the Wireless Internet Providers Association (WISPA) —an association that brings together operators present in small and rural locations in Mexico— says that the solutions are evaluated on a “case-by-case basis”. Among the possibilities, there is also one for the extension or deferral of payment for services due to the health emergency, even if it means an immediate loss of income.
Guevara says that, although the banking sector has been considered part of the essential activities, in remote populations, there have been problems in collecting payments; especially in populations used to make payments in person. The concern was shared by Pacheco, who stated that “the suspension of service charges during this emergency period is one of the greatest difficulties, as well as the lack of access to the bankarization of many customers who have had to adapt to this abrupt change and other customers who are still in a period of adaptation”. Castro also agrees and recognizes that the confinement measures “slow down the payment for services in communities and population segments still used to pay in person”. Therefore, in countries like Argentina, cooperative offices in the interior of the country were quickly exempted from mandatory isolation for the users to pay in person for services. However, in other countries, although the possibility of making payments in offices is still in force, many operators saw a decrease in their collections.