The Internet in Latin America:
A detailed look at the cases of Mexico and Uruguay


        A key factor in the advancement and growth of internet access in Latin America is to expand infrastructure to rural areas. As we saw in the case of Mexico, electronic infrastructure is well developed in cities and severely lacking outside of them. This is probably the case in many Latin American countries, and it is clear that in order to sustain internet growth and make things such as e-governance possible, the countryside must be involved.

        Age disparity in internet users is a problem for both Mexico and Uruguay, with the vast majority of internet users being 35 or younger. It is clear that unless older people are taught and motivated to use the internet, internet penetration will take much longer to reach a high level. Latin American countries should invest more in programs aimed to increase internet penetration for people of all ages.

        In both Uruguay and Mexico one ISP dominates the Internet connection market, due to its association with the company that controls each country’s national telephone network. If the Mexican and Uruguayan markets were more liberalized, real competition among companies would drive Internet costs down, and thus increase the number of people who can afford to access the net. In the case of Latin America, then, further liberalization of the communications sector is needed to expand the reach of the Internet in the region.

        From Uruguay’s example, it emerges that a complete lack of government intervention is not desirable either. Liberalization should not be taken to unreasonable extremes. While the forces of the market can lower prices and promote the improvement of the technological infrastructure, there will always be people for whom these changes don’t go far enough, and who will tend to be left out of the “Information Society” which the Internet is helping to form. This sector is particularly large in developing countries like those in Latin America, and because of this it is especially important that governments make serious efforts to promote the widespread use of the Internet at all levels of society. No matter how good a country’s electronic infrastructure is, if part of the population doesn’t have access to it, then the country will miss much of the Internet’s positive impact.


Andrés Cassinelli

Javier Fernández

CS 201X

Stanford University