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Latin American telcos band together to achieve UN SDGs

Ecuador's Telecommunications Regulation and Control Agency (ARCOTEL) and the GSMA have launched the "We Care Ecuador" campaign to set up local actions by telcos that will help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Operators Claro, CNT EP and Telefónica Movistar have banded together on a coordinated awareness campaign via social networks, digital media and websites to help create a culture of prevention in vulnerable areas and reinforce good practices during emergencies.

The GSMA and ARCOTEL will also work together to step up the fight against handset theft. They will support the ARCOTEL initiative Tu Celular Legal exchanging regional good practices and the global experience of the GSMA IMEI database, a global central database containing basic information on the serial number (IMEI) ranges of millions of mobile devices (e.g. mobile phones, laptop data cards, etc.) in use across the globe.

"As a mobile ecosystem, we're focusing on supporting communities during crisis or natural disasters and tackling the daily scourge of mobile phone theft, continually aiming to help reach the SDGs by fully leveraging mobile technology," said Sebastián Cabello, Head of GSMA Latin America.

The mobile industry in Ecuador will jointly work with authorities to improve the disaster preparedness and response, according to the GSMA. During the earthquake in April 2016, the country's mobile operators mobilized technicians and vehicles to provide satellite phones, water, phone chargers and internet service to affected areas.

They also installed temporary base stations, provided power generators and offered discounts and free calls and texting, among other actions to facilitate communications access to users in affected areas. Ecuador's Secretary of Risk Management said that by 22 April 2016 (six days after the earthquake), 84 percent of telecommunications had been reestablished in Manabí, and in Esmeraldas and Guayas, they were fully restored.

"Joining "We Care Ecuador" reaffirms our willingness to collaborate and encourage a culture of preparedness and response for situations that can put lives at risk," said Victor García, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Claro. "The mobile industry contribution to improving people's quality of life is even more evident in actions that help to improve public safety, both in times of natural disaster and in working with the authorities to tackle handset theft."

José Manuel Casas, CEO of Telefónica Ecuador, said: "I reiterate my gratitude and my pride in the work of everyone at Telefónica and the pledge to the country. In record time we set up vital telecommunications services, sent out vehicles that covered the worst hit areas, provided free calls and built seven Proniño centers to teach, entertain and support children affected by the tragedy. This shows what we're capable of. If we're united and focused, we'll achieve our objectives, fully in line with the SDGs."

Underscoring the mobile industry commitment to the SDGs, the GSMA "We Care" campaign is an initiative of the region's leading mobile operators to ensure all their users can enjoy the life-changing benefits of mobile technology in a safe and secure environment.

To achieve this, operators have joined forces as an industry and taken on a series of commitments in every country in the region where mobile phones and networks can provide solutions to social problems.

The initiative has been launched in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and the Dominican Republic, and will continue to expand across the region.