Telecommunications in Uruguay
This article refers to Communication in Uruguay.
Telecommunications and broadcast networks
Telephones - main lines in use: 964,900 (2011)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 4,757,000 (2011)
Telephone system: fully digitalized
domestic: most modern facilities concentrated in Montevideo; nationwide microwave radio relay network; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity has reached 170 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 598; the UNISOR submarine cable system provides direct connectivity to Brazil and Argentina; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Television broadcast media: Uruguay has a mixture of privately owned and state-run broadcast media; more than 100 commercial radio stations and about 20 TV channels. Cable TV is readily available. Uruguay adopted the hybrid Japanese/Brazilian HDTV standard (ISDB-T) in December 2010.
Internet users: 1.405 million (2012)
Internet hosts: 1.036 million (2009)
Country code (top-level domain): UY
In Uruguay, one can access the Internet mainly by using:
- ADSL services, provided by the monopoly state-owned company (ANTEL). As of 2012, 4 Mbit/s/512 kbit/s cost about USD 60/mo.
- One of the different wireless ISPs (which have a tendency to be more expensive because of high taxation and radio spectrum licenses costs).
- As an option, some shopping malls and other commercial business offer WiFi access at their location.
- Cyber cafes are very common throughout the whole country, and very inexpensive (from about US$ 0.40 an hour).
- 3G mobile Internet is offered by all the mobile phone companies with rates of up to 3 Mbit/s. The 3G rates are relatively cheap compared to the world, because of the lack of the country population and also lack of cultural technology immersion.
- Recently, ANTEL and Claro (Telmex), launched LTE 4G with high speed connections, about 20 Mbit/s.
- Dedicado ISP launched WiMax in 2012.
- ANTEL is currently installing the "VERA Network", a FTTH network to the whole country, expected to cover most of Montevideo in 2013.
- Slower mobile internet service (EDGE and GPRS) is also offered by all mobile phone companies at very low flat rates.
Although most medium- and large-size cities have modern cable TV networks, Internet access is not available through them.
Access from Uruguay to the Internet at large is concentrated in few providers, which puts the country in the "significant risk" category for total loss of Internet connectivity in the case of internal or external turmoil. (As of December 2012, the only other South American countries in this situation are Bolivia and Paraguay.)
ANTEL, a telco company owned by the government, is the only ISP to provide ADSL service since it enjoys a monopoly in the basic telephony area. Other ISP use other technologies, such as radio, to get to customers.
Some services marketed to home users by Antel as of April 2013 are:
Unlimited data plans
- Plano 1: 2048 kbit/s down 512kbit/s up = 490UYU = 26USD a month
- Plano 2: 3072 kbit/s down 512kbit/s up = 585UYU = 31USD a month
- Plano 3: 5120 kbit/s down 512kbit/s up = 883UYU = 46USD a month
- Plano 4: 10240 kbit/s down 512kbit/s up = 1268UYU = 67USD a month
(These plans still have a data limit at 100 GB, at which point their down and upload speeds get halved)
Metered data plans
- Flexible 5 Giga: 5 GB limit = 288UYU = 15USD a month
- Flexible 20 Giga: 20 GB limit = 387UYU = 20USD a month
- Flexible 30 Giga: 30 GB limit = 490UYU = 26USD a month
- Flexible 40 Giga: 40 GB limit = 590UYU = 31USD a month
- Flexible 60 Giga: 60 GB limit = 790UYU = 42USD a month
- Flexible 80 Giga: 80 GB limit = 890UYU = 47USD a month
- Flexible 100 Giga: 100 GB limit = 990UYU = 52USD a month
(No down and up speeds are quoted for these plans.)
All prices include VAT.
ADSL service requires having a corresponding phone line with Antel. All plans provide a dynamic IP address only.
Cable TV Internet
Despite a fully developed cable network in all mid- and large-size cities, there is no Internet access through cable TV in Uruguay as it has been steadfastly opposed by government regulators. Cuba is the only other country in the Americas missing this component of the Internet access ecosystem.)
Fiber To The Home
On November 2010, ANTEL announced that it would start rolling out Fiber To The Home in the second half of 2011. As of April 2013, the Antel website claims to have connected over 389,000 homes to the Internet via fiber. There is no evidence that the government will allow private companies to offer their own fiber networks to the home. Thus, the Uruguayan state will likely continue to wield monopoly power on physical media Internet connections to the home for the foreseeable future.
Some services marketed to home users by Antel as of April 2013 are:
Antel fiber to the home monthly plans
- Vera 20 Megas: up to 20 Mbit/s down 2 Mbit/s up, monthly data capped at 150GB (+) = 690UYU = 36USD a month
- Vera 50 Megas: up to 50 Mbit/s down 10 Mbit/s up, monthly data capped at 200GB (+) = 990UYU = 52USD a month
- Vera 80 Megas: up to 80 Mbit/s down 10 Mbit/s up, monthly data capped at 250GB (+) = 1290UYU = 68USD a month
- Vera 120 Megas: up to 120 Mbit/s down 12 Mbit/s up, monthly data capped at 350GB (+) = 1590UYU = 84USD a month
(+)When this cap is reached the connection is throttled back to 10% of its advertised speed for the rest of the month. Note that if a user were able to run the connection steadily at its advertised downlink speed he/she would reach the cap after a period between 5 and 16 hours and would get 10% of advertised speed for the rest of the month.
Most of Uruguay's landmass is too far away from cities to have wired Internet access. For customers in these rural and low density suburban areas, fixed wireless ISPs provide a service. Wireless Internet service has also provided city Internet users with some degree of choice in a country where private companies have not been allowed to offer wired alternatives (e.g. cable TV Internet, fiber to the home) to the state-operated ADSL service.
Dedicado is a local wireless ISP. It appeared before or about at the same time as Anteldata (about in 1999), but since ADSL was not available at the same time on every neighborhood, Dedicado had the majority of the permanent Internet connections. As of November 2007, ADSL is available in every neighborhood in Montevideo, and in most other cities, and Dedicado lost a big market share, both because being more expensive and giving bad service to their users. They started a big advertising campaign, but didn't pay attention to the technical details related to their number of users, so their quality of service decreased. As of 2012, their quality of service issues appear to be on the mend, but their pricing issues continue especially in the rural market where they have no credible competition and have steadily increased prices. Dedicado originally operated Ericsson fixed wireless equipment and later transitioned to Motorola Canopy technology. In 2005, they started deploying WiMAX services. However, as of May 2010, the service is not offered nor advertised yet. There are other wireless ISPs, but Dedicado is the main one.
Telmex is another entrant in the Uruguayan fixed wireless space, with the technology knowhow and financial backing to offer world class service and increase competition in the fixed wireless space. As of early 2012, they were still a tentative player however, with limited coverage of the country and some technical shortcomings (e.g. no Skype connectivity.)
In February 2012, Antel announced a push to provide fixed wireless Internet service to rural customers using their 3G cellular network. As of November 2012, the service was being actively offered to customers of the company's Ruralcel fixed wireless telephone service. Customers who sign up get the equipment (a ZTE MF612/MF32 or Huawei B660 3G router) and monthly Internet service for free. While the network and router are capable of supporting multi-Mb/s service, the free offering is throttled back to 256 kb down/64 kb upload speeds and capped at 1 GB of monthly data transfer (except for a small number of customers grandfathered from a previous service). Once that data limit is reached, the customer has to recharge the service using a prepaid card at a rate of approximately US$10/GB. There is an alternative monthly billing plan that offers 2 mb down/512 Mb up/5 GB data cap for US$ 15, plus u$s 10 for each additional GB (up to 5 GB additional.) There is no unlimited data plan, which limits this technology's ability to compete in the non-residential fixed wireless space against vendors like Dedicado.
Internet access via cell phone networks is probably the most vibrant and competitive Internet marketplace in Uruguay. All the Uruguayan cell phone companies (Antel, Claro, Movistar) offer data plans for their smartphone users as well as USB-modems for personal computers. Ancel/Antel even offers a bundle of cellular Internet access and ADSL, an unusual but potentially attractive combination for home ADSL users who also want to have Internet access on the go. The speeds delivered by all companies within their areas of coverage keep getting faster, and the areas of coverage keep expanding (as of 2012 Ancel probably still has the edge in % of the country's land covered.) Vendors are shifting from 3G to 4G, starting in the area around Montevideo. From a consumer's standpoint, the only discouraging trend in this market is the adoption of data volume caps by all vendors. As of August 2012, no vendor web-site offered an unlimited mobile internet data plan (the closest was an "unlimited during nights and weekends" from Claro.) This means these offerings are unlikely to cross sell into the fixed wireless internet market where unlimited data plans tend to be the rule.[according to whom?]
The main ISPs in Uruguay are:
- ANTEL (http://www.antel.com.uy)
- Dedicado, by Dedicado (http://www.dedicado.com.uy)
- TelMex, also related to CTI Movil (http://www.telmex.com.uy)
- Movistar (http://www.movistar.com.uy)
- Claro (http://www.claro.com.uy)
Many of those services also have an installation cost, which is equal to one or two months of said service.
- Could it happen in your country?
- Anteldata website
- Cable TV operators to sue Uruguayan state to be allowed to offer Internet service (In Spanish)
- Only Cuba and Uruguay don't offer Internet access via cable modem (In Spanish)
- Antel FTTH Announcement (In Spanish)
- Anteldata website
- Antel Rural Internet Announcement (In Spanish)
- Stats are from the World Factbook