Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean

A Digital Economy Toolkit

Published on June 22, 2016

Also available in: Spanish

This joint initiative by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the OECD seeks to encourage the expansion of broadband networks and services in the region, supporting a coherent and cross-sectorial approach, to maximise their benefits for economic and social development. Drawing on a wealth of experience from LAC and OECD countries, the Toolkit outlines the main policy objectives in this area and provides guidance for their measurement, an overview of developments in the region, and a compilation of good practices in several areas related to broadband policy making.  This comprehensive volume encompasses a wealth of areas including digital strategies, regulatory frameworks, spectrum management, competition and infrastructure bottlenecks, broadband access, affordability, sector taxation, inclusion, convergence, regional integration, education, skills, business uptake, entrepreneurship, local content, e-health, digital government, consumer policy, and digital security and privacy. 

SUMMARIESavailable in 3 languages

English Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean (Summary in English)
Spanish Políticas de banda ancha para América Latina y el Caribe
Portuguese Políticas de Banda Larga para a América Latina e as Caraíbas


Executive summary
Broadband and beyond in Latin America and the Caribbean
Regulatory frameworks and digital strategies
Spectrum policy
Competition and infrastructure bottlenecks
Extending broadband access and services
Affordability, government charges and digital inclusion
Regional integration
Skills and jobs in the digital economy
Business uptake, entrepreneurship and digital content
Digital government
Consumer protection and e-commerce
Digital security risk management
Privacy protection
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Executive summary

Broadband networks are the foundation of digital economies. Increased availability and effective use of the services enabled by broadband can advance social inclusion, productivity and good governance. A range of challenges has to be overcome, however, in providing readily accessible, universal and locally relevant broadband-based services  in many parts of the world. In the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, some 300 million people have no access to the Internet. While new generations of broadband networks are rapidly emerging, much remains to be done to expand the necessary infrastructure and to encourage individuals, business and governments to make the most of what broadband has to offer.

Increasing connectivity and the use of digital services in the LAC region will require policies and practices that address major supply and demand issues in a holistic and coherent manner. The Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean: A Digital Economy Toolkit sheds light on good practices and case studies, based on a whole-of-government approach. Its aim is to offer public authorities an overview of the policies, regulatory practices and options that can maximise the potential of broadband as a driver of economic and social development. The 15 chapters of this Toolkit cover a broad array of topics on broadband policy making, from digital strategies, regulatory frameworks and spectrum management, to competition, access, affordability and taxation, including education, skills and business uptake, as well digital security and privacy.

Key findings

The chief challenges for increasing broadband access and use in the LAC region relate either to supply-side issues, such as infrastructure deployment and provision of broadband services, or to demand-side issues, such as skills, entrepreneurship, local content and consumer protection. In these respects:


Key recommendations

The task of increasing broadband access and usage is complex, involving major supply and demand-side issues. Extending broadband use cannot be addressed by policy makers and regulators alone. Broader structural issues must be addressed, with the help of all relevant stakeholders. Good practices in this respect include the following: