Digital Economy

Chile launches plan to double Internet penetration by 2020

The plan aims to make the digital economy 10 percent of the Andean nation’s GDP.

Friday, June 28, 2013  
Santiago residents tap away on laptops at a free wifi hotspot in the Universidad de Chile Metro. Pho Santiago residents tap away on laptops at a free wifi hotspot in the Universidad de Chile Metro. Photo by Priscila Videla / Flickr

 

Chile, already one of Latin America’s most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world, has plans to expand just as quickly into the virtual world.

In a recently released plan, President Sebestián Piñera dedicated government resources to increasing Internet penetration in order to boost the already booming Chilean economy. The plan includes steps to increase the number of Web connections in the country, expand high-speed broadband infrastructure and lower the costs of getting online.

“We want [online businesses] to grow as a share of the economy,” Piñera said at a press conference launching the Agenda Digital Imagina Chile 2013-2020 (Imagine Chile Digital Agenda 2013-2020). “In fact, we expect the digital economy to reach 10 percent of GDP by 2020.”

The plan will focus primarily on bringing Internet access to 80 percent of the country’s homes, installing high-speed Internet in 50 percent of the Andean nation and launching free wifi hotspots in every community throughout the country. Hotspots are already present in a quarter of Chilean towns, often in central plazas.

“Our society requires connectivity and digital inclusion,” President Sebestián Piñera said when the plan was launched. “It requires that we all be connected.”

Chile already has the highest rate of overall Internet and broadband connection penetration in Latin America. Web-based businesses have huge potential in the country, which has 93 percent of its Internet users on social networks according to a study from the analytics group comScore.

To reach that goal, the Chilean government, as part of the new plan, aims to lower the price of Internet access to match what is being offered in other developed nations. With those infrastructure improvements, the government hopes to attract more Internet-based investment.

The government’s plan to spread Internet access is not just about economic growth, though. The plan also focuses on connecting the vast majority of public schools to high-speed broadband and put 100 percent of required course materials online for students to freely access.

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