|Latin America I 1996
|America’s Telecommunication Trends, 1990-1995
|Telecommunications Development Bureau
|International Telecommunications Union
The first half of the 1990s has been good for telecommunications in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The average annual growth rate in main telecphone lines almost doubled from 1990-94 compared to 1986-90. Mobile cellular, which hardly existed in the LAC sub-region in 1990, has grown spectacularly. Converging communications technologies such as the Internet and cable television are also developing rapidly. Though LAC still has a way to go to catch up with more developed North America, it nonetheless accounts for a growing share of the overall telecommunications market.
Factors during the strong telecommunication development include a revivial of the region’s economy as well as progressive privatization and liberalization of the sector. One question mark is where the region’s telecommunication turnaround can be sustained. The economies of several key countries in the region have recently entered a difficult period, especially following the devaluation of the Mexican peso in 1994. And despite the higher growth rates in the first half of the 1990s, there still remains significant unmet demand and disparities in telecommunication access in the region. The number of telephone lines increased by over 50% in LAC from 1990-5, lifting the region’s teledensity (telephone lines per 100 people) from 6.4 to 8.9. Surprisingly, the highest growth in teledensity (main lines per 100 inhabitants) was not registered by the publicized countries that privatized their operators in 1990-1 (Argentina, Mexico and Venezuala). Instead Guyana, Jamaica and El Salvador top the list, all with annual average growth rates since 1990 in excess of 15 per cent.