Costa Rica targets universal broadband access

Costa Rica’s government has introduced its new National Broadband Strategy, which aims to provide broadband services to even the most remote areas of the country, thereby boosting productivity, innovation and ultimately the economy.

The initiative is being overseen by the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET) as part of the National Development Plan for Telecommunications (PNDT), and fulfilment targets are expected to be finalised by November.

Costa Rica has the second highest internet penetration in Latin America, after Chile, according to Informa Telecoms & Media’s Intelligence Centre. By the end of 2010broadband subscriptions had reached 667,000 – a year-on-year increase of 50 per cent.

The Costa Rican government invested $500m in broadband services in May 2008, and while broadband expansion has been a public policy goal since the first National Development Plan for Telecommunications was established in 2009, the government has not yet indicated what investments it will make in this latest plan.

A free trade agreement signed with the US a few years back ensured that private companies have been able to operate in the telecoms sector since January 2009, and state-owned ISP Radiográfica Costarricense (RACSA) has already formed alliances with the main cable operators to allow them to provide broadband services.

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) meanwhile provides ADSL services under the @celera brand, and has committed itself to investing USD 33.5mn in fibre-optic connections.

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