Eclac kicks off Latin American broadband observatory

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) has launched the Latin American broadband observatory to aid in the design and monitoring of public policies aimed at making broadband more universal, the commission announced on its website.

"Eclac promotes a development agenda based on equal rights and the narrowing of productive gaps, and the observatory helps us to see more clearly the inequalities of broadband access, in terms of charges and speed, as well as challenges in relation to infrastructure and connectivity," said Eclac executive secretary Alicia Bárcena, on the opening of the third meeting on the region's international connection costs and their impact on broadband prices.

Mobile broadband has been one of the fastest growing telecommunications services in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, Eclac said. But growth has been uneven, resulting in a gap between Latin American countries and more developed nations.

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According to data from regional broadband observatory ORBA, the percentage of the regional population with mobile broadband services went from 0.2% in 2005 to 4.7% in 2009, compared to a rise from 5% to 49% in the same period for OECD countries.

Broadband may "become a fundamental axis for regional integration," Bárcena said, but price is one of the main factors that determine the take-up of broadband.

In March 2011, the average regional price for fixed broadband was US$72.8/Mbps, compared with US$5.9/Mbps in OECD countries, ORBA found.