Internet Day is an event celebrated in Latin America and other parts of the world on May 17. It was established by the Internet Users Association when on October 29, 2005Shortly after the World Summit on the Information Society was held in Tunis, it was decided to propose the designation of this day to the UN. In the United States, it is celebrated as a national day on October 29.
The main purpose of this celebration is to promote accessibility to the Internet and learn about the possibilities offered by new technologies.
In this sense, ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), among its areas of action and objectives established in its Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean (eLAC2022), provides that it must “promote access and connectivity of broadband in significant conditions of affordability and quality in remote areas, rural and semi-urban areas, stimulating the development of alternative connectivity providers such as community networks, rural operators and technologies with a good cost-effectiveness ratio through alternative and sustainable models of investment”.
Likewise, among the objectives framed in ‘Inclusion, competencies and digital skills’, of the same statement, it is said that it is necessary to “promote a digital culture that encourages the appropriation of technology and the development of digital skills and competencies for innovative use, ethical, safe and responsible for ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in the face of digital inclusion”.
With the use of the Internet, the way in which people relate to the whole world has changed, managing to cross communication barriers and geographical borders. Sectors such as government, education, commerce, health, among others, have been impacted by information networks, generating advances that benefit humanity.
Important areas such as health or education have seen notable advances thanks to new technologies and internet access. This is the case of more studies and advances in the control and eradication of diseases and application of medical treatments and procedures, telemedicine, promotion of digital and audiovisual literacy, development of self-learning, among others.
Xavier Moreano, national marketing manager for netlifea company that has 670,000 internet subscribers in Ecuador, explains the economic importance. “The internet is a great enabler for the economic growth of countries. In a study carried out by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2019, it is known that a 10% growth in internet penetration increases 1.4% of the country’s GDP, which for Ecuador means approximately $1,400 million. That said, the internet has changed lives because entertainment, communications and business can now be done on a global scale instantly.”
Moreano highlights four aspects that have been especially enabled by the internet:
- global education. Education can be accessed anywhere in the world without having to leave the country.
- Global work. Remote jobs can be accessed anywhere in the world without having to leave the country.
- Global business. You can scale and establish global businesses where the market is the world and without having to leave the country.
- Global capabilities. Access to technology and knowledge is no longer a limiting factor for competitiveness. The internet allows equal conditions and democratization of opportunities to access knowledge and technology from the most developed sites in the world.
Statista GmbH, a German online statistics portal, points out in a report published in February 2022 that there are 13.6 million internet users in Ecuador (January 2022), ranking 8th after Brazil, which ranks first. place, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Chile.
With this figure, Ecuador, with a population of 17,511,000, 77.67% of Ecuadorians have internet access. For the UN, based on the most recent data from the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), the proportion of women who use the internet in the world is 48%, compared to 55% of men. In relative terms, this means that the gender gap in global internet use is 12.5%.
For Carolina Bohórquez, marketing manager of HughesNet Ecuador, the internet is increasingly becoming a more necessary service that covers a basic communication need. “The pandemic accelerated this process, since most activities began to be carried out through the internet, from teleworking, virtual education, to virtual medical appointments. People require more hours of internet use and connect to more devices. As a company we are working on a profile of the satellite internet user in Ecuador, which we will soon share with the community”.
Advances in Ecuador
The portal of Yim Shum, a Venezuelan expert in digital marketing, points out that 64.6% of Ecuadorians reside in urbanizations (April 2022). In addition, it indicates that active users of social networks are 14.60 million, this represents 81.1% of the total population.
“In Ecuador there have been great advances in terms of Internet signal. The arrival of new submarine cables and investment in new technology networks have enabled Ecuador to climb six positions between 2021 and 2022 in the Global Speedtest Index (www.speedtest.net/global-index). In the specific case of Netlife, its clients have an average download speed 22% higher than the average for the country (https://www.speedtest.net/global-index/ecuador#fixed). On the other hand, the implementation of IPv6 (possibility of connecting devices to the internet) in Ecuador is at 28.11%, which allows it to be above the average in South America (https://www.google.com/intl/es/ipv6/statistics.html#tab=per-country-ipv6-adoption)”, says Moreano.
HughestNet is a company that focuses on providing internet service to rural areas. For your marketing manager, bringing the internet to remote areas is no easy task. During 2020, HughesNet expanded the capacity of its networks to improve the minimum browsing speed to 3 Mbps.
In 2021, another service of this company was to develop free WhatsApp. “All customers with HughesNet (both old and new) being connected to this network can chat on WhatsApp, send and receive voice notes, documents, videos and photos, without consuming data from their plan. Other activities such as sending or sharing contacts from the agenda, updating the status are also part of this free WhatsApp advance”, says Bohórquez.
Improve internet coverage to more places to reach a larger population, says Bohórquez. “The logical thing is that the companies offering the service increase their coverage, but this actually happens in the main cities, capitals of the provinces, where there is greater population density; not so in small, remote towns, as is the case of rural parishes. There, satellite internet technology plays a fundamental role. Let us remember that a quarter of the population lives in the countryside, in rural areas, in such a way that without the need for wiring, or laying a physical cable, a greater percentage of the population can have access to the Internet with the sole installation of an antenna ( plate) in your home or business”.
dotnet is another company in the country that currently has more than 120,000 subscribers in the residential segment and more than 14,000 connectivity links in the corporate segment in 22 cities in the country and with a backbone network of 15,000 km of FO and 45,000 km in access. Thus, it manages to capture 6% of the market.
Roberto Falconí, Puntonet’s national director of Technology, believes that among the main challenges in Ecuador is the implementation of fiber optic coverage (FO). “Both in urban and rural sectors, this is more noticeable in small cities. Additionally the deployment of FO networks in the country only covers 35% of the total market of active connections, the other 65% is delivered through copper solutions (xDSL or HFC technologies) and free band wireless networks. The costs of internet services become more expensive due to taxes and tariffs that must be paid for equipment and materials that 90% are imported in order to provide the service”.
Main challenges for the population to have better internet access in Ecuador
Moreano highlights four that are associated with the deployment and coverage of new technology networks. “This enables access to better internet access along with the need for more training on the critical factors to be able to choose the internet service that could best meet the customer’s needs. Many times decisions are based on a factor of speed and price when there are many more variables to consider such as:
- Technology used: Today having an internet service through fiber optics is the minimum requirement of any internet service. Today differentiation and quality are found in other technological variables, such as network topology, network layer in which the service is provided, IP protocol used (ipv6, ipv4), network technology (XGPON, 10GPON, GPON, Gepon), wifi equipment (dual-band, WiFiwifi 6, etc.), antenna arrangement (2×2, 4×4, etc.), customization of firmware (standard or adapted to the local needs of the environment).
- Customer experience management: Applications for self-management and self-support so that the resolution of incidents is immediate, response times in technical visits when there are last-mile outages, variety of service channels for requirements.
- Innovation: Level of innovation and improvements made in processes, systems, platforms and methodologies to optimize service levels and signal quality.
- Solutions: Ability to offer a solution with a portfolio of services that adapts to the specific needs of each home.
While Bohórquez highlights that Hugues, the parent company that in 2021 will celebrate 50 years of experience in the world, “has planned for the first quarter of 2023 to launch a new satellite into space, Jupiter 3, which will provide greater capacities and speeds satellite internet across the planet.
What remains to be done in Ecuador to improve internet accessibility?
There are always things that need to be worked on to improve accessibility, says Moreano. “From expanding coverage to deploying new technology networks. The most important point so that better accessibility can translate into a better quality of life is that along with the work carried out by internet providersit is necessary to carry out parallel education programs that improve the digital skills of Ecuadorians and public policies that foster an environment of greater development, innovation and digital entrepreneurship”.
“I would add that the role played by the State is fundamental,” Bohórquez bursts in. “It must be precisely the Government that provides the facilities so that more operators offer the internet service, with clear rules, incentives for investment, and policies that generate trust in private enterprise. Promote internet access throughout Ecuador, but I would add it especially to families that are in the most remote areas, in rural Ecuador.
Falconí lists four aspects that are lacking in Ecuador to improve internet access:
- Generate public-private projects that bring the internet to forgotten areas or without access to technology through the deployment of fiber optic networks.
- Facilitate the acquisition of computers, tablets, smartphones so that the population has the necessary device to be able to connect to the networks that are deployed.
- Promote government initiatives that lower interests, tariffs and taxes that make telecommunications services more expensive.
- Development of underground projects in cities that allow air networks to be decongested and improve the quality of services by minimizing service outages due to pole accidents.