A Multipronged Public Sector Approach to Digital Inclusion
With 35 million fixed and mobile broadband subscribers, Brazil ranks among the top ten countries worldwide by total number of broadband users. Its large population, however, places the country's broadband penetration outside the top-50 worldwide. This report explores the challenges, opportunities and successes that define Brazil's ICT experience.
Regionally, Brazil is slightly above the Latin American average in terms of penetration, but behind Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Speed of access follows a similar pattern – Brazil is better than the regional average, but below US or European levels. Likewise, Brazil has relatively good international fibre connectivity, although it is not as well connected as some of its neighbours. Similarly, prices for telecommunication and broadband access are lower than other countries in the region yet still relatively high compared to North America and Europe, especially outside the major cities. Phones, computer and telecommunication equipment are also significantly higher in cost, partly due to import duties on IT equipment, further reducing affordability of access among the lower-income groups.
Nevertheless, steadily rising economic prosperity for the less wealthy, along with the flurry of ICT investment made to prepare for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, suggests there are much improved prospects for wider adoption of broadband in Brazil. The strategies adopted and lessons learned from both public and private initiatives will be valuable for other developing countries planning to promote better access to broadband, and are likely to have special relevance for other large emerging economies, in particular the BRICS countries - Russia, India, China and South Africa.
This case study is one of an initial series of seven that will contribute to the Broadband Strategies Toolkit, an online resource for policy-makers and regulators, especially in developing countries. The case studies are generously funded by the Korean Trust Fund (KTF) on Information and Communications for Development (IC4D). The KTF is a partnership between the government of the Republic of Korea and the World Bank Group whose purpose is to advance the ICT4D agenda to contribute to growth and reduce poverty in developing countries.