Positive Developments For Digital Inclusion But Challenges Persist
T he Bolivian government passed the General Telecommunications Law (Law No.164) in August 2011, which established the provisions for the National Digital Inclusion Plan (PRONTIS). It contained plans to transfer 2% of the profits from telecommunications companies in order to fund an initiative aimed at reducing the 'digital divide' in Bolivia . BMI notes that the plan has been met with some important successes, but cautions that the country will not be able to catch up with the rest of the region until the launch of its satellite in 2014.
Minimal coverage and high prices of connectivity have kept the internet out of the hands of many citizens, due to t he l andlocked nature of the country. This has limited it s access to international submarine cables, and must therefore rely on purchasing bandwidth from neighbouring countries at a premium . Furthermore, the mountainous topography presents difficulties for operators building out infrastructure , resulting in Bolivia having one of the most expensive prices for fixed broadband in the region, at 14.4% of gross national income at the end of 2012, according to the ITU. This puts it at 31 st out of a possible 35 countries in the Americas, and 129 th out of 161 countries worldwide.
PRONTIS is administered by the Ministry of Pub lic Works and Housing Services in collaboration with the regulator ATT and state-owned operator Entel , which contributes to the highest amount of funds for the plan as a result of being the largest mobile operator. For example, the Bolivian government awarded Entel and Bolivia TV BOB423mn (US$59mn), with 80% going to the former and the remaining 20% to the latter. The goals of PRONTIS include:
PRONTIS brings Internet Growth Number Of Fixed Internet Connections ('000)