Internet in Venezuela
Use of the Internet in Venezuela has greatly expanded, but is mostly concentrated among younger, educated city residents, and centered on the capital, Caracas. According to several experts, the lack of quality Internet in Venezuela, which includes the slowest speed in Latin America and one of the slowest Internet speeds in the world, is due to the poor infrastructure of the country.
Facts and figures
- Top-level domain: .ve
- Internet users:
- Internet speed: 1.61 megabits per second (2018), world average is 20 Mbit/s (2014)
- Fixed broadband: 1.9 million subscriptions, 42nd in the world; 6.7% of the population, 95th in the world (2012).
- Wireless broadband: 1.3 million subscriptions, 67th in the world; 4.8% of the population, 112th in the world (2012).
- Internet hosts: 1.0 million hosts, 46th in the world (2012).
- IPv4: 5.0 million addresses allocated, 0.1% of the world total, 179.9 addresses per 1000 people (2012).
Late 1990s and 2000s
Between 1998 and 2002, the number of Internet users in Venezuela grew from 207,000 to 1,585,000, but then decreased to 1,365,000 in 2003 for a current Internet penetration rate of 5.4 percent. As of 2001/2002, the vast majority of personal computers are not connected to the Internet. In 2000, Venezuela had approximately 240 dot-com businesses, mostly business-to-business rather than business-to-consumer. The Venezuelan government claimed to have been attempting to automate its processes and put its agencies and services online, assisted by a newly created agency for information technology, but these attempts were not been consistent or thorough. As of 2001, though there were sixty licensed ISPs, CANTV Servicios and Telcel controlled over 90 percent of the Internet market. Hotmail, Google, and Yahoo were by far the most popular sites as of 2003, followed by news sites and other search engines. In 2004, the Venezuelan government estimated that 50.4 percent of the population had never used the Internet and would not be interested in doing so, while 28.9 percent were possible future Internet users, primarily young, educated, middle-class individuals. During a 2004 survey, Internet use was strongly concentrated among young, educated city residents, with, 76 percent of users younger than thirty-five, 67 percent having schooling beyond high school, and more than 60 percent of users coming from Caracas as of the early 2000s.
In a 2007 survey, approximately 26.0 percent of Internet users log on daily. These users tend to be upper-class individuals using home connections for educational or work research and downloading. Over half of the population connects between once and five times per week, using cybercafés for e-mailing and chatting. This group is generally male and represents all socioeconomic levels with the exception of the lowest income segment. A smaller portion of users, 16.9 percent, connect between once every other week and once per month. These light users come again from all economic strata except the lowest class, and they almost exclusively use cybercafés for job search purposes.
As of 2012, statistical reports have shown Internet and broadband penetration in Venezuela as below average for Latin America and much lower than would be expected.State-owned incumbent CANTV has a monopoly in the provision of ADSL, with which it dominates the broadband sector. The only competition comes from cable modems, wireless broadband, and satellite. As a result, ADSL in Venezuela is slower and more expensive than in other Latin American countries. Inter occupies a distant second place after CANTV in the broadband market, with a triple-play package that includes cable TV, cable modem, and telephony. This report provides an overview of Venezuela's Internet, broadband, and pay-TV markets, accompanied by relevant statistics, analyses, and broadband scenario forecasts for the years 2010, 2015 and 2020. See report summary here.
The fastest growing telecom sector in Venezuela was pay TV after mobile broadband, and accounted for 15% of all telecom revenue in the country. The market leaders are DirecTV, Inter, SuperCable, NetUno, Movistar, and CANTV.
Mobile telephony in Venezuela in 2012 has been far more dynamic than the fixed-line market, so much so that mobile phones outnumber fixed lines in service by around 4.6 to one. Mobile penetration is among the highest in Latin America, trailing only Argentina, Uruguay, and a number of Caribbean islands. Venezuela is also a regional leader in terms of SMS traffic, the number of text messages surpassing the number of minutes an average Venezuelan talks on a mobile phone. The country remains one of the last bastions of CDMA in Latin America, but the two leading mobile operators, Movilnet and Movistar, are finally turning to GSM. The third operator, Digitel, offers only GSM services. This report provides an overview of Venezuela’s mobile market, accompanied by statistical data and brief profiles of the operators. See report summary here.
In 2014, Venezuela's Internet speed has been called one of the slowest in the world. Its Internet speed was rated at 1.7 Mbit/s, behind both the region average of 5 Mbit/s and the world average of 20 Mbit/s. The Venezuelan government stated that it started a project titled "WiFi for All", but when BBC tried to use the networks in Caracas they did not work at all. The lack of speed in Venezuela has been blamed on poor infrastructure according to several experts. The lack of US dollars due to the Venezuelan governments currency controls has also damaged Internet services because technological equipment must be imported into Venezuela.
In 2018, Venezuela's broadband speed was measured at 1.61 Mbit/s, even slower than in 2014. It was recognized as the slowest internet speed in Latin America.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2015)
Due to economic troubles and shortages in Venezuela, Venezuelans began using social media for everyday necessities, which is possibly one of the reasons Venezuela is one of the most active internet countries in Latin America. Venezuelans have used notice boards and Twitter feeds to find and barter for scarce products. Custom made apps have also been created to assist Venezuelans find goods and medicines affected by shortages in the country. Some have also turned toward social media to in order to find reliable news due to government censorship.
The National Fibre-Optic Backbone project aims to build a 6,940 km network; Venezuela ranks third in the world for Facebook users as a percentage of Internet users; Venezuela’s pay TV market suffers from rampant signal theft; in 2011/2012, two more companies entered the Venezuelan satellite TV market: CANTV and Inter.
Movilnet, Movistar, and Digitel have been allocated additional spectrum; mobile operators are having to invest in their networks, which suffer from severe congestion; Digitel, Movistar, and MovilMax (a WiMAX provider) plan to deploy 4G/LTE networks in 2013/2014; more than one third of Venezuela’s mobile subscribers still use CDMA technology; Venezuela continues to have the region’s highest ARPU.
Legal and regulatory frameworks
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez decreed the promotion of Internet use as essential to development. Correspondingly, the government promotes use of information and communication technologies (ICT) through a regulatory framework designed to promote competition among ICT businesses, but no special programs encourage such businesses directly.
In 2005, personal Internet use appeared to be largely unrestricted by law and regulation. The U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights in Venezuela for 2005 states that "there were no government restrictions on the Internet or academic freedom."
In December 2010, a new law "Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media" (Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio, Televisión y Medios Electrónicos) was adopted. The law was intended to exercise control over content that could "entice felonies", "create social distress", or "question the legitimate constituted authority". The law has been criticized because it may lead to government censorship and encourages self-censorship.
In November 2013 Venezuelan ISPs were ordered to block websites that provide the black market exchange rate. The order is based on Venezuela's 2004 media law which makes it illegal to disseminate information that could sow panic among the general public. Reporters Without Borders warned of the alleged "rising censorship in Venezuela's Internet service, including several websites and social networks facing shutdowns". They condemned actions performed by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) after Conatel restricted access to websites with the unofficial market rate and allegedly "demanded social networks, particularly Twitter, to filter images related to protests taking place in Venezuela against the government".
In the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2013, the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that users of the government-run CANTV were prohibited from seeing certain websites. The IACHR said that the websites of Diario de Cuba and Radionexx were unable to be visited.
The Venezuelan government allegedly blocked images on Twitter in Venezuela for 3 days (12–15 February 2014) which appeared to be an attempt to limit images of protests against shortages and the world's highest inflation rate. Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler stated that, "I can confirm that Twitter images are now blocked in Venezuela" adding that "[w]e believe it the government that is blocking". However, the Venezuelan government published a statement saying that they did not block Twitter or images on Twitter, and implied that it was a technical problem. During the same period of time, it was reported that Internet access was unavailable in San Cristóbal, Táchira for up to about half a million citizens from an alleged blockage of service by the government with multiple sources claiming that the Venezuelan government blocked Internet access. Internet access was reported to be available again one day and a half later.
- This article was originally adapted from the OpenNet Initiative profile of Venezuela, 9 May 2007, which was published under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document: "2014 edition".
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State.
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- "Communications: Venezuela", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 28 January 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012" Archived 2017-03-29 at the Wayback Machine, Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 26 June 2013
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- "Venezuela - Broadband and Broadcasting Market - Overview, Statistics and Forecasts".
- "Venezuela - Broadband and Broadcasting Market - Overview, Statistics and Forecasts".
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- "Venezuela - Mobile Market - Overview, Statistics and Forecasts".
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- OpenNet Initiative "Summarized global Internet filtering data spreadsheet", 29 October 2012 and "Country Profiles", the OpenNet Initiative is a collaborative partnership of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; and the SecDev Group, Ottawa
- Due to legal concerns the OpenNet Initiative does not check for filtering of child pornography and because their classifications focus on technical filtering, they do not include other types of censorship.
- "Venezuela forces ISPs to police Internet", John Otis, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 12 December 2013.
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- "Twitter reports image blocking in Venezuela", USA Today (AP), 14 February 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-07. Retrieved 2016-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Táchira militarizada y sin Internet luego de 16 días de protestas" Archived 2014-03-10 at the Wayback Machine ("Táchira without Internet militarized after 16 days of protests") (in Spanish), Eleonora Delgado, Adriana Chirinos, and Cesar Lira, El Nacional, 21 February 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
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- O'Brien, Danny. "Venezuela's Internet Crackdown Escalates into Regional Blackout". EFF. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2014-05-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)