Digital Economy Offers Opportunities for Growth in Mexico

Posted by Daniel Sepulveda
January 17, 2014
Woman Uses Mobile Phone in Mexico City

My dear friend, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and I visited Mexico last week to conduct a series of meetings on bilateral and multilateral technology and telecommunications issues.  In the process we took the opportunity to visit with a group of young entrepreneurs who were using technology and the open, global Internet as platform for developing new businesses using the assistance and guidance provided to them at Telefonica’s tech accelerator, WAYRA.

As government officials, we were the only people in the room wearing suits (and we raised the mean age somewhat), but we were thrilled to see what was happening.  These young Mexican entrepreneurs were working on innovative ways to link parents with teachers, retailers with customers and doctors with patients.  The ideas were innovative, the energy was high and the enthusiasm boundless.

As public servants, we work to create a legal and regulatory environment both at home and abroad that enables that kind of optimism and pursuit of happiness.  I am not sure that these young people knew it, but underlying their capacity to innovate and reach the world without having to jump through regulatory hoops or ask anyone for permission are two concepts U.S. policymakers work hard with our colleagues in Mexico and others to preserve -- an open and secure Internet, governed by a broad range of decision makers, including industry, government and civil society and free-market competition in telecommunications networks.

Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, and U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn pose for a photo with their staff members and the head of Wayra, a startup accelerator owned by Telefónica, in Mexico, January 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Mexico is currently engaged in an ambitious effort to implement constitutional reforms passed last year that support the principle of market-based competition for telecommunications network providers and broadcasters.  The sense of purpose, seriousness, and optimism with which our counterparts in Mexico are approaching these issues, particularly expansion to broadband access was impressive and humbling.  Mexico is now writing policies to ensure broadband access reaches 98 percent of its population, not an easy undertaking given the vast size of the country and the nature of its rural populations.
In visits with the policymakers at the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), the President’s office of National Digital Strategy and the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, I heard enthusiasm for the benefits a digital economy can bring to government services, education and healthcare, contributing to a new wave of economic growth.  We also spoke of the challenges of writing and implementing such extensive and complex laws in a manner that is fair to all participants, transparent, credible, and dependable going forward.  Done right, Mexico will have successfully created a regulatory environment conducive to market-based competition and investment, which will lead to innovation and new services we can’t even imagine today, creating opportunity for Mexicans to attract investment and expand the platform that will enable its young people to prosper and connect to the rest of the world.
We are deeply grateful for the welcome we received and the generosity of time and spirit that our neighbors to the South showed us during our visit.
About the Author: Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB).



Earl D.
California, USA
January 21, 2014
I keep seeing these blog posts announcing that the "digital economy" is going to save the underdeveloped nations. Baloney. In 1980, Mexico was poised to industrialize, and the U.S. and the I.M.F. stepped in to stifle it, saying that they didn't want a "Japan south of the border." Now Mexico is a hellhole run by the drug mafias. The "digital economy" just means an extension of the trans-Atlantic feudal economy, where an oligarchy (now referred to as the "1%") is fantastically wealthy, and everyone else is a starving peasant. Mexico has already tried that system in the past, and they deserve better.


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