Survey: Puerto Rico broadband availability reaches 77%

Written by  //  June 5, 2014  //  Telecommunications/Technology  //  No comments

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From left: Puerto Rico CIO Giancarlo González, Raquel Noriega, vice president of public policy for Connected Nation, Naji Khouri, president of Liberty, Felix Lugo, country manager, Columbus Business Solutions, and Javier Rúa, president, Telecommunications Regulatory Board.

From left: Puerto Rico CIO Giancarlo González, Raquel Noriega, vice president of public policy for Connected Nation, Naji Khouri, president of Liberty, Felix Lugo, country manager, Columbus Business Solutions, and Javier Rúa, president, Telecommunications Regulatory Board.

New research released Wednesday by Connect Puerto Rico shows that broadband availability at speeds of at least 50 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload available in Puerto Rico has more than tripled from 24.3 percent in October 2013 to 76.9 percent in April 2014, excluding mobile wireless services.

“Broadband capacity continues to improve in Puerto Rico,” said Chris Pedersen, director of program outreach for Connect Puerto Rico. “But work is still needed to close the gap in providing broadband services throughout the island to the remaining 10 percent of households without the most basic levels of broadband service.”

Among the findings of the new broadband availability research are:

  • Fiber broadband availability increased from 0.3 percent in October 2013 to 1.8 percent in April 2014.
  • Broadband availability at speeds of at least 6 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload increased from 77.34 percent in October 2013 to 79.56 percent in April 2014, excluding mobile wireless services.
  • Broadband availability at speeds of at least 50 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload increased from 24.31 percent in October 2013 to 76.9 percent in April 2014, excluding mobile wireless services.
  • DSL broadband availability increased from 64.97 percent in October 2013 to 66.94 percent in April 2014.
  • Broadband availability to more than one non-mobile provider increased from 70.6 percent in October 2013 to 83.38 percent in April 2014.

This is the ninth comprehensive broadband availability data release from Connect Puerto Rico through the State Broadband Initiative.

The findings were shared during the second edition of the Puerto Rico Tech Summit that took place Wednesday and gathered a cross-section of public and private-sector representatives from the island and abroad. It also brought together a group of so-called “hackers” invited by the government to develop applications and solutions to provide better services to Puerto Rico residents.

During the morning session, a four-member panel discussed what remains to be done for the island to fully improve access to broadband, concluding that collaboration is key to getting the job done.

“Incentivizing private investment is the essential driver for this sector, as well as investment in infrastructure by the government,” said Raquel Noriega, vice president of public policy for Connected Nation, which has worked with the government to map Puerto Rico’s broadband footprint.

Government initiatives related to public policy will also have a heavy influence on the island’s adoption rate, which Félix Lugo, country manager for Columbus Business Solutions is another significant challenge to growth.

“The biggest problem we have is adoption. We have to create the relevance for consumers, so they have a reason to connect from home,” he said. “Everybody must come together for that.”

For his part, Liberty de Puerto Rico President Naji Khoury — who has been a very vocal advocate for broadband adoption in Puerto Rico — said if the government does its job correctly, the private sector will be in a better position to move forward.

“We cannot forget about a big part of the island’s population that has been left behind, and if we don’t push them forward through education and the government being stringent in requiring that transactions are done online, then we will remain a bit stuck,” Khoury said. “We’ve made a lot of improvement, but we’re not satisfied that we’ve reached our goal.”

Meanwhile, Telecommunications Regulatory Board President Javier Rúa-Jovet said the agency is taking on several initiatives, including collaborating with the Puerto Rico Planning Board and Connected Nation, to integrate broadband maps into land use plans to help companies make sound investments in areas where coverage is lacking.

Survey on relevance of broadband
Connect Puerto Rico is currently conducting an online survey to measure high-speed Internet adoption and usage throughout Puerto Rico. The survey, conducted in both English and Spanish, asks individuals about the importance of having access to high-speed Internet and their experience using it. The survey is available in Spanish here or English here.

Connect Puerto Rico’s research was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative grant program for Puerto Rico, funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

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