Internet Access Growing Faster than in Asia or Africa

Internet adoption in Latin America is growing faster than Asia or Africa, on some measures, slower than Asia or Africa, on other measures. On the other hand, Internet access adoption already is higher in Latin America than in Africa or Asia.

Between now and 2019, Latin America Internet usage growth rates should be at 7.4 percent every year. That is lower than for Africa or Asia, where compound rates of rate will be 8.7 percent for Asia and 10.3 percent for Africa.

Of course, as always is the case, statistics must be viewed in context. Brazil and Mexico have much larger populations than most other countries in Latin America, so Internet users, traffic and other metrics have to be filtered.

Some six countries will represent 81 percent of all Latin American Internet users by 2020: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, Peru and Chile. The four countries bordering the Pacific will represent 38 percent of all Internet users.

Across Central America, Mexico dominates existing, and potential customer connections. Across the globe, a few large countries have disproportionate impact on such metrics.

At the moment, about 70 percent of all Internet users in Latin America do so using their mobile phones and networks. By 2020, perhaps 95 percent will do so, according to RecargaPay.  

As is the case elsewhere, though, fixed networks play a muted role. By 2014, fixed-network broadband penetration reached almost 10 percent globally, while mobile Internet adoption was about 32 percent, according to the International Telecommunications Union.

Perhaps 57 percent of the Latin American population will be connected by about 2019, Cisco estimates. In some countries, that is already has become the case. In Argentina, as early as 2011, 67 percent of people were connected. In Columbia, 56 percent were connected; in Chile, 59 percent; in Uruguay 56 percent.

Central America Internet Usage and Population Statistics
( 2014 Est. )
Internet Usage,
% Population
31.7 %
84.7 %
28.5 %
19.7 %
18.6 %
49.2 %
15.5 %
52.7 %
44.1 %

Latin America also is different some ways. Compared to Asia and Africa, the population to connect is largely urban, not rural. In principle, that means different access technology choices and platforms might be important, compared to markets where the challenge substantially involves connecting rural users.

Broadly speaking, that means platforms offering low cost coverage are relatively less important than platforms offering low cost capacity. Where mobility or fixed wireless platforms are concerned, that tends to mean higher-frequency platforms arguably are more important than lower-frequency platforms that are better for coverage, less valuable for capacity.

Retail local access can cost an order of magnitude more, on a price per megabit per second (price per Mbps) basis, than similar costs for countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which clearly is an issue.

Backhaul and long haul prices also are issues.

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