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Despite Hurricane María’s wrath, P.R.’s internet use jumps to 75%

The SME study reveals that after the passage of Hurricane María, at-home internet connections dropped, while the mobile phone remained the main means to connect, Anitza Cox says.

The use of the internet in Puerto Rico continued its upward trend in 2018 after the passage of Hurricane María, reaching an incidence of 75 percent among users 12 years and older, equivalent to 2.2 people, according to the results of the 2018 Digital & Mobile Behavioral Study.

The research unveiled by the Sales and Management Executives Association, also noted that in 2017, the incidence was 71 percent, while 73 percent of participants noted having access to the internet in the month prior to María’s strike on Puerto Rico in September 2017.

The study, which the SME commissioned to research firm Estudios Técnicos, measures the incidence, uses, attitudes and behavior of people 12 and older with respect to the internet and digital media. In addition, it provides a look at people who do not use it.

“An increase was observed among all the groups by age, particularly among the population of 40 to 54, whose incidence increased to 82 percent, and the group between 55 to 64 years-old, which increased to 62 percent,” said Anitza Cox, Estudios Técnicos’ director of analysis and social policy.

In terms of how the internet is accessed and the types of connections, there has been a decrease in household connections after the passage of Hurricane María, from 61 percent to 53 percent. Likewise, the mobile phone continues to be the main means from which users connect — 94.3 percent.

The percentage of people who shop online increased from 37 percent to 41 percent, as well as the amount of money they spend from $158 to $196. This figure represents around 931,089 people aged 12 and older who shop online.

“Conservatively, the estimated amount of spending on online purchases already exceeds $182 million annually,” said Cox.

The main activities carried out by online users are still communication, searches and entertainment, although differences were observed regarding the most visited sites by Puerto Rico residents, with Clasificados Online occupying the first place. The first five places were rounded out by Caribbean Cinemas, Primera Hora, El Nuevo Día and WAPA.tv.

“This shows how the internet has established itself not only as a means of communication and entertainment, but also as a space for transactions and services,” added Cox.

The 2018 Digital & Mobile Behavioral Study was conducted through a personal survey, in two stages, which included a total sample of 726 people. In its first stage, the survey was representative of the Puerto Rico’s population that is 12 and older by gender, income level, age and region. In the second stage — or boost sample — Estudios Técnicos sought to have a representative sample of internet users according to the profile identified in the first stage.

In terms of mobile phone use, 91 percent of the island’s population has a mobile phone, which represents more than 2.8 million people aged 12 and over. Of these, 69 percent have a smartphone, while among internet users this proportion is higher at 95 percent.

Although the Android is still the most used type of phone, there is an increase in the use of the iPhone, the study showed.

The study also measured traffic to Puerto Rico-based digital news outlets, with NotiCel heading the list, followed by El Calce, Foro Noticioso, Lente Viral, Sin Comillas and News is my Business.

The most frequently used local applications were: El Nuevo Día, Banco Popular, ATH Móvil, Primera Hora and Telemundo.

Meanwhile, the study also measured traffic to Puerto Rico-based digital news outlets, with NotiCel heading the list, followed by El Calce, Foro Noticioso, Lente Viral, Sin Comillas and News is my Business.

In terms of preferred content formats among internet users, video continued to be the favorite, followed by music and photos. Likewise, 65 percent of internet users remember seeing ads or advertising on social networks, while video and animations are the type of content that most draws their attention.

“Although at an early stage, there is already an increase in the use of adblocking platforms (from 8 percent to 12 percent,)” said Cox.

As part of the study, participants were asked to evaluate the performance of various entities in terms of their response to consumer needs following Hurricane María.

The media and nonprofit organizations were the best evaluated by consumers, with a “B” rating, while central government agencies and insurers obtained the worst grades, with a “D” rating.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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