Digital Divide

Sixty Percent of Latin Americans Will Have Internet Access in 2016

May 8, 2015

by AQ Online

The number of Latin Americans with access to the Internet will increase by 20 percent over the next twelve months, according to the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry (LACNIC). The Uruguay-based NGO is one of five Regional Internet Registries in the world that assigns and administers IP addresses to local Internet service providers—it also advocates for Internet development in the region.

LACNIC’s director, Oscar Robles, shared his organization’s prediction of increased Internet usage in a private breakfast with news reporters on Thursday in Montevideo. Robles, who is from Mexico and was appointed director of the organization in April, said that predicted growth in Internet usage could be attributed to improved regulations and new education initiatives. He estimated that at the end of 2015, there will be 370 million Internet users in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is more than half the region’s population.  

Internet availability still varies among countries in the region, and Robles said that governments should democratize access by “providing a certain level of promotion and awareness that the Internet is necessary to meet the needs of society”.

Robles praised specific countries for leading the region in Internet expansion. In Brazil, government regulations allow multiple service providers to operate in the country, encouraging connection in both urban and remote locations. In Uruguay, the Plan Ceibal initiative equips school buildings with WIFI and provides laptops for students.

Robles also stated that Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru are the Latin American countries most ready to implement the new version of Internet Protocol (IPv6), which will replace the previous version (IPv4) and assigns a unique alphanumeric address to computers on networks and also routes Internet traffic.

“While IPv4’s days are numbered, the fact that certain technologies exist that can help mitigate this situation have provided operators with a false sense of security, Robles wrote in April. “In some countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region, a significant percentage of networks (ASN) support IPv6 and are currently ready to handle IPv6 traffic.”

On Thursday, Robles also suggested that IPv6 would secure a greater sense of Internet autonomy for the region—referring to revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 that the U.S. National Security Agency had spied electronically on other countries.

Read an AQ article about Internet usage in Latin America from our Spring 2015 issue on technology.


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Tags: Internet acces, Digital Divide, Information Technology

Learning from Gilberto Gil’s Efforts to Promote Digital Culture For All

November 7, 2011

by Paulo Rogério

Please find the original text below, submitted in Portuguese.

In Brazil, one name is synonymous with the digital culture movement: singer and songwriter Gilberto Gil. He has been referred to as a cyber-activist, warrior for free software and a “minister of hacking”—and he is considered the “ambassador” of this cause.

Gil has made a career out of challenging conventional wisdom and showing sufficient interest in the role that the Internet is playing in transforming the world. At a recent festival in São Paulo called youPIX, the singer, who turns 70 next year, was keen to stress the importance of how the Internet has challenged the status quo in politics, business and society.

It turns out Gil practices what he preaches. In June of this year, he provided all his discography to mobile platforms like Apple and Android. Gil is one of the great enthusiasts of the copyleft—a concept advocating openness and transparency by opposing the copyrighting of artistic works.

Known worldwide for his tropicalista songs—referring to the rhythm he invented with the Bahian Caetano Veloso—Gil was one of the two first musicians in Brazil to talk about the importance of digital culture. Even in the 1960s, he was a renegade in releasing a song called “Electronic Brain” which talked about robotics. By the 1990s, he unveiled “Through the Internet,” a song that predicted the potential unifying power of the Internet. The song became an anthem of sorts for Brazilian cyber-activists. 

Tags: Brazil, Digital Divide, Social inclusion, Gilberto Gil

Breaking Digital Barriers

March 31, 2010

by AQ Online

Americas Quarterly hosted its first online chat earlier today.  Focusing on Brazil, the conversation addressed the underlying conditions of and possible solutions to the digital divide—the exclusion of disadvantaged and minority populations from the opportunities brought by technology.  Paolo Rogério, author of The Digital Integrator in the Winter issue of AQ and founder of Brazil’s Instituto Mídia Étnica, and Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of, were featured panelists in the discussion.

The conversation yielded several conclusions.  Participants agreed on the importance of government regulation to encourage access to technology.  Pontos de Cultura, a government project that promotes access to technology in rural communities, for example, is considered a great success.  But LANhouses—private, informal arrangements that often function outside of legal and regulatory boundaries—provide many people with Internet access, and several groups are advocating for friendlier environments for such informal providers.  Hansen proposed a study examining the growth of LANhouses as related to national GDP.  Another conclusion reached was the need for education to accompany access to technology. The full discussion thread is available online.

AQ encourages readers to continue this conversation by posting comments below.

Tags: Digital Divide, Brazil IT, Mídia Étnica