Lack of infrastructure and remoteness are the biggest barriers to a large number of Latin Americans who live outside the digital umbrella receiving a digital service. Even when these obstacles are overcome, poverty emerges as a third factor in bringing the Internet and digital TV to a large part of the region.
These three big issues were cited in the latest Signals Telecom Consulting report, which focuses on the problems operators may face in spite of some public efforts to improve digitalisation in Latin American countries.
Far from the big cities of Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires, 21% of Latin Americans live in rural areas, according to the International Foundation for Agricultural Development (IFAD). And a quarter of these families live on less than $2 per day, meaning that 167 million people are living in poverty, according to CEPAL, the economic commission for Latin America.
These figures point to a big market which can't pay for a regular Internet connection to receive an over-the-top or on-demand service such as Netflix.
Some operators and several public plans, such as Argentina Conectada in Argentina or Vive Digital in Colombia, are using satellite or DTH connections as a way to overcome geographic barriers, and the same objective can be achieved with LTE and HSPA+ networks. But even though coverage can be extended to an entire region, rural clients are still a difficult target for most operators.
Signals believes that the only solution will be found through cooperation between private and public sectors to stimulate operators' expansion to the most remote areas of Latin America.