Latin America’s Internet Penetration Surpasses that of China

Penetration has reached 78% in the region, but data remains excessively costly for the 20% of the population on the lowest income, according to a report by Atlántico

Latin America’s Internet Penetration Surpasses that of China.
September 01, 2023 | 04:40 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — Latin America has made significant progress in Internet connectivity, to the point that in the last decade it managed to close part of the gap with high-income countries and even surpasses China, according to the Latin America Digital Transformation Report 2023 by the firm Atlántico.

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Within a decade, Internet penetration in Latin America went from 43% to 78%, surpassing that of China, where penetration rose from 42% to 74% between 2012 and 2022, according to the report.

In high-income countries, the percentage rose from 75% to 90% in the same period.

Although Latin America still lags behind these markets, the report highlights the progress made in connectivity in the most advanced countries in the region, such as Chile, where it increased from 55% to 90%.


Chile is followed in the region by Argentina with 87% (in 2012 penetration was 56%), Brazil, with 84% (previously 49%), Mexico with 77% (previously 40%) and Colombia with 76% (previously 49%).

Despite advances in connectivity however, the cost of data in Latin America is “prohibitively expensive for the bottom 20%” of the population, the report states.

The average cost of 1GB of mobile data as a proportion of GDP per capita is the highest in Mexico, Venezuela and Costa Rica, followed by Argentina and Peru.


In contrast, it is lowest in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, according to the report.

One of the conclusions of the report is that Internet access was mainly driven by the inclusion of the middle and lower classes.

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High usage of mobile apps

On the other hand, Latin Americans are among the biggest Internet users in the world and, therefore, lead the global use of many social platforms.

Latin Americans, for example, dominate the use of applications such as Instagram, with 52% of users engaging with the platform, while in Europe this percentage is 45%.


Meanwhile, Facebook users in the region total 73%, higher than the percentage recorded in North America at 58%, Western Europe at 49% and Asia-Pacific at 36%.

On Tiktok, Latin America shares first place in terms of usage with the Middle East and Africa, with 36%.

As for YouTube, the use of this platform by Latin Americans accounts for 72% of users, lower than in North America (78%) and Western Europe (73%).


Netflix usage is highest in North America (56%) and Western Europe (42%), followed by Latin America with 31%.

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Hourly use of the Internet in the region

According to the report, the average daily time spent on the Internet (users aged 16 to 64) among the countries evaluated was highest in Brazil with 9.3 hours, 58% of which was spent on cell phones and 42% on computers.

Brazil is followed by Colombia (8.8 hours), Chile and Argentina (8.7 hours) and Mexico with 7.8 hours.

Globally, the greatest usage outside Latin America is in the United States (7 hours), India (6.7 hours) and China (5.5 hours).


As for the average download speed of a mobile Internet connection, the report states that the countries leading among the markets evaluated are China (100 Mbps) and the United States (80 Mbps).

In Latin America, the highest speeds are recorded in Brazil (42 Mbps), Mexico (26 Mbps) and Argentina (25 Mbps).

According to the authors of the report, these factors of digitization in the region have a direct impact on other services accessed by the population, such as financial services.


In the region, for example, the leading markets in terms of consumer adoption of financial technology services are Argentina (58%), Brazil (35%) and Colombia (32%), among others.

“The digital revolution is a unique opportunity, but it implies a great effort for the poorest 20%,” the document states.

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