Three out of ten Ecuadorians own a smartphone. This is stated in the White Paper of the Information and Knowledge Society of the Ministry of Telecommunications, which contains the advances and challenges of the sector. 90.8% have access to 3G and 4G technology. A smartphone allows the use of mobile internet that is provided through both technologies.
“These data reflect that there was an access gap of 57.1% between the coverage of the mobile internet service and the penetration of smartphones; hence the importance of promoting the adoption of devices that promote the demand for mobile broadband services and the deployment of infrastructure in underserved areas “, indicates this portfolio with figures as of June 2017.
According to the Ministry, when the expenses destined to telecommunications services represent more than 7% of the monthly income of the household, it is considered a “limitation” for the acquisition of the service. But if the prepaid or postpaid was the only service that people hire, the entire population would be able to acquire it: “Affordability barriers for the purchase of equipment, among other factors, affect that only 59.56% of people nationwide have a cell phone.”
The same situation occurs with access to computers, which also affects access to the Internet service. By 2017, 14% of households with lower incomes had a computer, and 11% had Internet access; while in households with higher income, 65% had a computer and 62% had Internet.
“One of the causes of the low penetration of terminal devices, is due to the application of tariffs, which in Ecuador reaches 15% for mobile phones and 10% for computers or tablets; it is essential to articulate policies with other government institutions that favor a reduction of tariff charges, “recommended the ministry, which aims for 2021 that the population coverage in the LTE technology or higher reaches 80% (last year was 52.79 %) and the penetration of smartphones went from 33.70% in 2017 to 66% in 2021.
Alfredo Velazco, director of the organization Digital Users, says that the obstacles have also focused on quotas (valid between 2012 and 2016), tariffs and other taxes that make the devices more expensive since the cost of mobile internet is one of the most expensive in the world.
According to Roberto Aspiazu, an expert in telecommunications, the voice business (calls) for operators has fallen and today it is data (internet) and for this technology to work, a good connection is necessary. To encourage access to cell phones, he believes that tariffs should be zero as in other countries.
Of homes with less income they have a computer and 11% Internet. In those with higher income, access rises to 65% and 62%. (I)