Bolivia: Activists Push for Better Internet Connectivity

Bloggers and activists are advocating for universal access and “minimum acceptable speeds” for Internet connections in Bolivia.

As previously reported on Global Voices, the first National Meeting to Promote Connectivity in Bolivia [es] took place in late January 2012. After the event, a group of activist continued to advocate, like blogger Mario R. Durán from Palabras Libres [es], who met [es] with Bolivia's upper Chamber President, Ms. Gabriela Montaño.

The campaign is also seeking to inform and raise awareness on the issues and limitations of the current connectivity conditions.

The group is gathering support at the site Más y mejor internet para Bolivia [es] (More and better Internet for Bolivia). The website “seeks equality in Internet access for Bolivians […] Do not dream of super speeds but do demand the minimum acceptable speed”.

Wanted – Better Internet Access for all Bolivians. Image by IICD on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

An infographic [es] that has been circulating on social media platforms shows that Bolivia is among the last places in connectivity and bandwidth in Latin America. It also shows that in Bolivia, one Mbps costs between 6 and 11 times more than in neighbouring countries including Paraguay, also a land-locked country.

Electric Engineer Sergio Toro, a Bolivian expert on ICT for development, comments on a post by TIC para el desarrollo‘s [es] blog:

el costo de una banda ancha superior a un megabyte es de 700 bolivianos, eso significa el 98% del salario mínimo, mientras que en Corea del Sur –por ejemplo- el mismo servicio cuesta un 0,2% del salario mínimo

The cost of bandwidth of one megabyte is 700 bolivianos (around 102 US dollars), that means 98% of the minimum wage, while in South Korea, for example, the same service costs 0.2% of the minimum wage

Among those advocating for Internet connections is Edgar Yana from Nuestra Cultura Primero. Edgar is a blogger based in the indigenous community of Chaguaya, 3.5 hours by bus from El Alto city. He attended the first National Meeting to Promote Connectivity in Bolivia, and the event's concluding report [es] underlines his situation:

Edgar Yana, comunario de Chaguaya menciona que tiene que viajar a El Alto para subir contenidos a su blog y que tener internet en su casa es una necesidad.

Edgar Yana, community member of Chaguaya mentions that he has to travel to El Alto to upload content to his blog, so having internet at home is a need.

The activists are gathered on the Facebook group ADSL Bolivia [es], the Facebook page Más y mejor internet YA [es] (Better Internet NOW) and also comment on Twitter using the hashtag #mejorinternetYA [es].

The main goal of the campaign is summarised by Mario R. Duran in a post for El Eco de los Pasos blog [es]:

la meta es que en el 2014, todos los hogares bolivianos tengan acceso a 1 mbps (como velocidad mínima) a un costo menor a 20 dólares

the goal is that by 2014, all Bolivian households have access to 1 mbps (as minimum speed) [Internet connection] at a cost less than 20 US dollars.

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