Ecuador is one of the countries with the lowest broadband internet penetration rates in the region, a mere 2.7%, notes María Eugenia Hidalgo. This, she says, is the legacy of a failed privatisation process in the telecommunications sector and the subsequent adoption of legal reforms that handed the most profitable segment of the market (mobile telephony) to the transnational private sector. The liberalisation of the sector was enshrined in the constitution adopted in 1998 which eliminated the concept of strategic sectors, including telecommunications.
Hidalgo points out that the emergence of wireless technologies, especially Wi-Fi, offers an alternative for internet access in areas that are unprofitable by market standards and lack infrastructure. She also notes that the new Ecuadorian constitution and the reforms being undertaken by the government in the framework of a new model of state activity, aimed at putting rights into practice through strong state involvement in the provision of services and infrastructure, should create a favourable environment for implementing the concept of universal access.
Hidalgo concludes by stressing the need for solid, long-term legal and regulatory solutions to promote the development and sustainability of networks geared to the public interest, which can contribute to bridging the broadband divide.