How Sponsored Data Has Changed the Game During the COVID-19 Emergency for Remote Education in Argentina

13 November 2020

AUTHORED BY: Carlos Aragon

Working in the telecommunications industry, sometimes we take for granted our ability to access online tools and technology for every day activities but, for a large portion of the global population having reliable broadband is not their everyday reality.

This has become particularly important during this COVID-19 pandemic. All over the world, both private and government sectors have rushed to enable mechanisms to continue functioning remotely. Education has been one of the highest users of video and collaboration tools and that requires bandwidth; a lot of bandwidth.

For students using a home broadband connection (e.g., DSL, Cable, Fiber) with a flat rate data plan, this has not represented a major challenge (other than fighting for bandwidth with their younger siblings watching cartoons on Netflix or playing online games). However, for a significant number of students, whose only broadband is available on a mobile device and with a limited data plan, online education can quickly consumer their data allowances on the very first day of classes.

In Argentina, many university students faced this challenging combination: university classes moved to online education platforms but the only broadband available in their home was through a mobile data plan. This meant they could no longer afford to attend their classes, risking missing an entire year of classes (or more, if the pandemic lasts longer), or having to apply a disproportionate amount of money to keep their data plans topped up.

THE CHALLENGE FOR STUDENTS WITH LOW RESOURCES

Puentes is a Non-Profit Organization that works in Argentina to make university accessible to students with limited resources by sponsoring marginalized youth with scholarships, training and personalized tutors aimed at helping them obtain their university degrees. They have 25 years of history partnering with companies and organizations that are committed to educational equality and community development, such as Banco Galicia, Mercedes Benz, Ernst and Young, Rabobank, Fundación Navarro Viola, Untold, Fundación Aiglé and IES Abroad, among others.

Puentes students working on an assignment

Puentes students working on an assignment

The name of the organization is not a coincidence—puentes means “bridges” in Spanish—because they build the bridges that connect these brands to students with low resources.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Puentes faced the online classes problem straight away and came up with an idea to put together a social responsibility program that would allow students to continue their education online by having brands and businesses sponsor their mobile data.

Bringing the brands onboard is what they do best, but they needed a technical solution to make their idea a reality, so they reached out to Mavenir for a solution.

SOLVING THE PROBLEM WITH SPONSORED DATA

Through a partnership, Puentes leveraged Mavenir’s Sponsored Data platform and services to provide precious mobile internet data for students to continue their learning online. Brands and businesses sponsor this mobile data through the platform and Mavenir’s solution gives the ability to provide mobile internet data to consumers, in real time, through the established relationships with the mobile network operators in the region.

“In this time of COVID, one of the most critical resources for students is internet connectivity—without it, students cannot continue their learning. Mavenir is a critical part for us to continue our mission and bridge the gap between students and educators” — Carolina Tocalli, Executive Director, Puentes

On a short interview, Susie Kim Riley, SVP of Monetization at Mavenir said: “We at Mavenir recognize the critical role we play in the mobile ecosystem, and when Puentes reached out to us, we were excited to get involved in the mission. COVID is making it harder for all students to receive the same level of education, and we are doing our part to help.”

It is hard to know when the pandemic will be finally over and people will all be able to resume a normal life, but these extraordinary times are helping people to find innovative ways to use technology and mobility to not only solve the problems introduced by the pandemic, but create innovative ways to help make this world better for everyone.

Carlos Aragon
Carlos Aragon
Carlos Aragon
Senior Director of Enterprise Solutions Marketing at Mavenir. He has extensive experience with real time communications, mobile and fixed-line Unified Communication (UC) services, UC as a Service and WebRTC as well as in-depth knowledge of related user experience fields such as video production and animation.

Carlos has two decades of experience in telecommunications, starting his career in a technical support engineering role for Ericsson; supporting 2G/3G switching, intelligent networks and GPRS. In 2000 he joined Nortel, where he held pre-sales and global product marketing responsibilities for Wireless Packet Core and, later, Multimedia Applications. In 2010 Carlos transferred to GENBAND as part of their Nortel acquisition (and then Ribbon Communications as part of their merger with Sonus Networks), where he had marketing responsibilities for Cloud and Platform-as-a-Service offers. In 2018 Carlos joined the Mavenir team to help mobile network operators provide innovative solutions for the enterprise of the future.

Carlos Aragon holds a bachelor's degree in telecommunications engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.