The cost for obtaining a country-specific internet domain has been seen as relatively too high for Bolivians. In comparison to many of its regional neighbors, where Chileans can purchase a “.cl” domain [es] for US$40 for 2 years and where Argentinians can even acquire an “com.ar” domain for free, the price in Bolivia is out of reach for many local residents.
Recently, the Network Information Center of Bolivia (NIC) [es] announced that they dropped the price for the purchase of a “.bo” domain name by 35% The price now stands at approximately $US140 per year. However, there are options to purchase the domain “com.bo” for approximately $US40 per year.
The price reduction was also announced on NIC's newly created Facebook Page, which also opened up the opportunity for users to voice their opinion on the costs of domains. On the discussion board, Esteban Lima wrote:
Me gustaría saber en que se invierte el dinero recaudado. Imagino que como institución pública la información de numero de dominios, recaudaciones e inversión debería ser pública
Conversation carried over to Twitter and to blogs, where users such as Oscar Humberto (@oky_) wrote about the effects of these prices:
Los precios de #nicbo no son accesibles a la realidad económica de los bolivianos, solo amplían mas la “brecha digital”.
However, blogger Mario Durán published criticism of the high prices on the wall of NIC's Facebook page, which he said was deleted by NIC. Soon after, Durán published a screenshot of what he wrote prior to the deletion on his blog [es] and noted that he called their offices to ask for further clarification of their policies. In a short interview with a legal representative from the Bolivian Agency for Development of the Internet Society (ADSIB for its initials in Spanish), Durán came away with the following points:
i) las rebajas serian progresivas.
ii) que lo que se paga por los dominios sirve para mantener la burocracia de NIC.bo
iii) que es una institucion estatal que no tiene muchos recursos.
iv) que en otros paises hay economias de escala y mayor numero de usuarios, esto les permite que el costo de los dominios sea incluso de 1 dolar, en Bolivia apenas son 6000 usuarios.
v) que por tres tipos que reclaman no iban a cambiar las cosas.
ii) the money collected from the sales of domains serve to maintain the NIC.bo bureaucracy
iii) it is a state institution without many resources.
iv) in other countries there are scale economies and a larger number of users, which allows that the cost for domains be even 1 dollar, but in Bolivia there are barely 6000 uers.
v) that for 3 people who complain, things will not change
In his blog post, Durán also noted that the petition to lower the prices has been on the minds of many Bolivian internet users since 2003. In a follow-up post, he suggested that a cyber-campaign be started so that more awareness on the issue can be raised [es] and that bloggers and twitterers should be the ones leading the debate. Many have started to use the hashtag #nicbo for discussion about this topic with hopes that there will be some concrete changes in the near future.