Across the board in Latin America, whether a country is busy fending off economic woes or capitalizing on a particular industry's moment of glory, no government loses sight of the need to keep up with the technological level of peer nations.

Thus we have seen smartphone penetration increase year to year, now averaging 50% across the region and mobile industry association the GSMA estimates regional smartphone penetration of 72% by 2020, which suggests probably 60% average penetration by end-2017.

Among regular internet users only, smartphone penetration in Latin America is 90%, according to consultancy Comscore.

The GSMA also estimates that 80% of the region will have 4G coverage by year-end 2017, compared to 60% today, although the proportion of mobile users on 4G data plans will remain low. Consultancy Ovum estimates that 4G lines will represent 16% of Latin American mobile connections by end-2017.

It is this pervading influence of connectivity and devices that has led futurists to suggest that we are in the throes of a fourth industrial revolution, whereby digital technology changes the way we live and work. Clearly, Latin America is embracing the revolution as much as any other part of the world.

Figure - Smartphone Penetration in Latin America


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