Latin America calling

Latin Americans’ access to telecommunications services has expanded fast since the early 1990s, with a telephone density now above the world average. Chile and Argentina lead the continent, with 90 and 82 telephone lines per 100 inhabitants respectively. Fewer, albeit wide, disparities still exist.

Haiti and Cuba lag in both access and uptake,while the poorest Central American and Andean countries have started to catchup. In Ecuador, for instance, annual growth in teledensity accelerated from around 30% in the early 2000s to 53% in2005. The OECD’s first Latin America Economic Outlook puts greater access down to several factors, including new technologies (e.g., mobile communications), improved regulation and substantial foreign investment, facilitated by a more liberalised market.Connectivity to land and mobile lines has grown between 10 to 25% per year per capita in Latin American countries that have privatised their telecom industries.Click here for larger graph.

Improving access remains a policy challenge though. Chile, for example, has allowed companies to bid for the right to supply low-income neighbourhoods with service, known as “universal access projects’’, with the contract going to the company that requests the lowest government subsidy to complete the project.

Order the OECD’s Latin America Economic Outlook at or see ISBN 9789264038264

©OECD Observer No. 264/265, December 2007-January 2008

Economic data


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