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Information Technology Policy and the Digital Divide

Lessons for Developing Countries

Edited by Mitsuhiro Kagami, Masatsugu Tsuji and Emanuele Giovannetti

The proliferation of new information technologies throughout the world has raised some important questions for policymakers as to how developing countries can benefit from their diffusion. This important volume compares the advantages and disadvantages of the IT revolution through detailed studies of a variety of developed and developing nations and regions: Argentina, Estonia, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and the USA.
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Chapter 10: Policies for Internet Access: Cases of Mexico and Argentina

Soon-Yong Choi


Soon-Yong Choi 1. INTRODUCTION Mexico and Argentina, besides Brazil, are the largest economies in Latin America, with populations of 99 million and 37 million, respectively, and gross domestic products of US$484 billion and US$283 billion, respectively, in 2000. In terms of Internet population, these countries are also ranked within the top 20 in the world. Nevertheless, Hong Kong with a population of just under seven million has more Internet population than either of these countries, according to the 2001 Nielsen/Net Ratings Global Internet Index. Typical of other Latin American countries, both Argentina and Mexico have a 10 per cent or lower rate of Internet penetration while leading Internet nations surpass the 50 per cent rate. Certainly, this disparity is in part due to their comparatively low GDP and per capita income levels. The inadequacy in basic telecommunications infrastructure is another main factor that contributes to their low rates of Internet penetration. Associated problems of high costs for telephone/Internet access, limited network service options, and uneven income distribution all contribute to their low performance. Nevertheless, several policy initiatives were put in place during the last ten years, mainly the privatization of state-owned telephone monopolies and the introduction of competitive, open telecommunications policy frameworks. As a result, substantial progress has been reported in terms of telephone and network availability, as discussed in the previous chapter. However, case studies of Mexico and Argentina will offer some lessons on the overall effectiveness of these initiatives and further understanding of their prospects for...

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