SkyNet President Diego Moreno says that in some areas it is not possible to improve connectivity because communities are opposed to mounting antennas.
SkyNet is turning 20 years old, bringing satellite connectivity services to the most remote places in the country. The company is the operator of the Kiosk Vive Digital program developed by the Government. It is a company that generates 80 direct jobs and about 800 indirect ones. “Through satellite technology, what we do is bring dedicated broadband and internet connectivity to end-users,” says Diego Moreno, CEO of SkyNet.
Moreno spoke with Portfolio, about the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the company and the short, medium, and long-term plans.
What does SkyNet do and who are its customers?
SkyNet is a Colombian integrated telecommunications company, and one of the fastest-growing satellite operators in the country. We have various types of clients, but the majority are telecommunications companies such as ETB, Claro, Movistar, and Tigo, among others. They carry connectivity, mostly with terrestrial networks, but where they do not reach, we do it via satellite. SkyNet is present in the Orinoquía, the Amazon, Chocó, San Andrés and Providencia, among other regions.
In these areas, we connect state entities such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Agrarian Bank, Family Welfare, and other state institutions. For example, we connect all the ships of the National Navy.
How is the relationship with the private sector?
It is a permanent and complementary relationship. We have many private clients. For example, we are service providers for banks, we also connect oil and mining companies that, in general, are located in areas where there is no connectivity. We do all of this with satellite technology. The same happens with tolls and road concessions. We connect electrical substations and power generating plants.
How have you been doing with the technology launched by SkyNet in Leticia in 2015?
Very well. There we introduced this technology that allows for speeds and latency to connect SMEs and public entities. This is the only city where SkyNet bills end consumer services. Today we have about 200 small businesses connected in the capital of Amazonas. We are going to replicate this model, whose effectiveness has been proven, in other parts of the country such as Mitú, Puerto Carreño, and Puerto Inírida, among others. It is a radio model that is giving very good results and is already being replicated in neighboring countries.
Is there any area in Colombia that is totally disconnected?
Today, practically the entire country is covered. Through the National Fiber Optic Plan, connectivity was achieved throughout the national territory that has electricity. Then there were 47 municipalities without connecting, for which the National High-Speed Radio Plan was executed. Today we can say that 100% of the 1,120 municipalities in Colombia are connected through different technologies.
What is the pending task in this sector?
In the case of the radio network, there is an important task that consists of strengthening what is called redundancy, so that jumps do not cause connectivity to be lost. This network is protected by satellite, and we are working on this to improve the service. What is coming for the country in telecommunications is to strengthen the connection and adopt 5G.
How has the resistance of communities to mounting antenna infrastructure to improve connectivity affected them?
That is a complex problem. For example, we have not been able to develop the project for the deployment of the radio network in Vaupés or Mitú, because the indigenous communities prevent the assembly of the infrastructure. This area is currently communicated via satellite. But it is necessary to strengthen the antenna network to improve the connection.
How will the delivery of the 700MHz electromagnetic spectrum benefit you?
This will be positive for the country because the 700MHz band will allow not only more coverage but higher speeds. In this way, the areas that today operate with 2G and 3G technologies will have the efficiency offered by 4G and 5G technology.
What percentage of the country is currently connected with 4G technology?
In terms of population, we can say that 80% are connected to 4G. However, the other 20%, which is the rural population, lags behind, and therefore the importance of the 700MHz band.
How many years will it take Colombia to massify 5G technology?
I believe that by 2025 we will have advanced considerably, at least in the big cities. There are already operators doing tests. But for that, having the 700MHz spectrum is key. There will be an equipment update process.
In this case, consumers must-have devices that support the new technology. However, many of these devices are already on the market. The reality is that content demands more and more speed.
What are SkyNet’s plans for this year?
We are working on a project to strengthen the Live Digital Kiosks. The idea is to bring more services. For example, providing Wi-Fi in busy public areas. We continue to strengthen the relationship with our operators, and with sectors such as oil and gas, road infrastructure for the digitization of tolls. This is a process that requires connectivity.