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Growing the Internet

Explicando a exclusão digital no Brasil

A penetração da Internet no Brasil vem crescendo de forma constante ao longo dos últimos anos, um êxito digno de celebração. Entretanto, com o advento da Internet móvel, a adoção da Internet fica bem atrás da sua disponibilidade, por razões que se tornam imprescindíveis entender.

De 2006 a 2013, a taxa de crescimento anual composta (CAGR) de penetração da Internet foi de 9%. Este número destaca duas tendências importantes: em primeiro lugar, a Internet tornou-se muito mais acessível; em segundo, uma grande parte da população do Brasil apropriou-se rapidamente da Internet. Em 2013, havia mais de 103 milhões de brasileiros usando a Internet, que representa 51,6% da população nacional.


Tabela 1. Fonte ITU (2014)

Embora o crescimento no uso da Internet tenha sido rápido, existe uma grande parte da população que nunca acessou a Internet. Para que os atores (ou partes interessadas) abordem tal exclusão digital, é importante entender sua origem.

A primeira hipótese que se poderia enfocar é se o acesso à Internet está disponível para aqueles que desejam usar a Internet. A tabela abaixo mostra que a disponibilidade já não é um problema tão grande. Devido à ampla disponibilidade de celulares, quase 90% dos brasileiros possuem acesso à Internet móvel em 2013, muito mais do que os 52% que usam a Internet.


Tabela 2. Fonte ITU (2014)

Uma explicação para a diferença entre a disponibilidade e a adoção da Internet móvel pode ser as condições de acesso ou acessibilidade – o fator de custo pode colocar o acesso à Internet fora do alcance de muitas pessoas. Nesta linha, há evidências interessantes. Com base nos dados disponíveis de 2013, o custo da banda larga móvel foi de 3,23% da renda per capita média, abaixo da taxa máxima de 5% proposta pela Comissão de Banda Larga para o Desenvolvimento Digital da União Internacional de Telecomunicações (UIT). A banda larga fixa, com um custo de 1,42% da renda per capita média, é ainda mais acessível em locais onde está disponível.

Se não se trata da disponibilidade ou da acessibilidade, para entender quais são as principais barreiras da adoção da Internet, recorreu-se à pesquisa anual de TICs do CETIC.br (Centro de Estudos Regional para o Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação no Brasil). Este é um recurso único e de valor inestimável, não só pela série histórica desde 2006, mas também porque alcança indivíduos e domicílios que ainda não estão conectados à Internet e pergunta quais são suas razões para não acessar a Internet.

O gráfico a seguir ilustra as principais razões identificadas por não-usuários da Internet entre 2007 e 2013 – os indivíduos podem escolher a quantidade de razões que consideram relevantes. Os resultados confirmam especialmente que a disponibilidade e a acessibilidade não são temas relevantes, já que somente ¼ dos não-usuários identificou este motivo. Por outro lado, 70% mencionou a falta de necessidade e interesse, e 70% também citou a falta de habilidades, como motivos principais.


Tabela 3. Fonte CETIC.br (2014)

Isto sugere uma área-chave para atuação das múltiplas partes interessadas em aumentar a adoção da Internet, que deveriam focar no lado da demanda – oferecer conteúdo local relevante para despertar interesse em não usuários e capacitação para que possam ingressar na rede. Os temas no lado do provimento (disponibilidade e custo do acesso à Internet) continuam importantes, porém são secundários de acordo com os resultados da pesquisa.

É  interessante notar que os números da pesquisa ilustrados na Tabela 3 não são representativos do total da população, e representam os motivos identificados por uma quantidade decrescente de não-usuários da Internet. Conforme demonstrado na linha negra da tabela abaixo, o número de usuários entrevistados que não usaram a Internet vêm diminuindo  constantemente. Neste sentido, os 70% de não-usuários que mencionaram a falta de necessidade ou interesse como motivo para não usar a Internet em 2013, representam aproximadamente 29% da população, uma tendência que tem sido estável ao longo do tempo. Esta linha igualmente se aplica de maneira geral às principais tendências.


Tabela 4. Fonte CETIC.br (2014)

Como resultado, é importante concentrar os esforços na persistente minoria dos brasileiros que não são afetados pelo aumento da disponibilidade ou pelos custos mais baixos. Ao se aprofundar nos dados, dentro do grupo que menciona a falta de necessidade ou interesse, há uma diferença relativamente pequena por região, gênero, grau de instrução e renda. O único indicador em que há uma diferença significativa refere-se à faixa etária, na qual apenas 27% dos indivíduos entre 10 e 15 anos mencionam a falta de necessidade ou interesse como motivos para não acessar a Internet, ao passo que 81% dos indivíduos com mais de 60 anos apontam esta razão. No que tange aos outros fatores, há ainda menos diferenças entre os distintos grupos.


Tabela 5. Fonte CETIC.br (2014)

As conclusões extraídas destes dados são claras. Com a maior quantidade de usuários cobertos por acesso à Internet móvel, a disponibilidade e os custos desempenham um papel menos determinante na decisão de acessar a Internet. Para os responsáveis por políticas públicas no Brasil, há valiosas lições que podem ajudar a melhorar o número de usuários de Internet, e, portanto, permitir que os cidadãos se beneficiem das várias vantagens oferecidas pela Internet.

Entendemos que estas lições também serão úteis para outros países que buscam melhorar o nível de acesso à Internet: para estes países, outra lição é o valor dos indicadores detalhados coletados ao longo dos anos pelo CETIC.br.

Categories
Growing the Internet

Explaining the Digital Divide in Brazil

Internet penetration in Brazil has been growing steadily for the past years, a success worth celebrating. However, with the advent of the mobile Internet, adoption now lags well behind availability for reasons that are important to understand.

From 2006 to 2013 the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for Internet penetration was 9 percent. This figure highlights two important trends: first that the Internet has become much more accessible, and second that a large part of the Brazilian population has quickly adopted the Internet. For 2013, there were more than 103 million Brazilians using the Internet, which represents 51.6 percent of the country’s population.

Figure 1 . Source ITU (2014)

However, although the growth on Internet usage has been rapid, there is still a large part of the population that has never accessed the Internet. In order to address this gap, it is important first to understand its source. The first area one would look is whether Internet access is available to those who wish to access it. The following chart shows that availability is largely not an issue. Thanks to the widespread availability of mobile, almost 90% of Brazilians had access to the mobile Internet by 2013, far greater than the 52% who were using the Internet.

Figure 2 . Source ITU (2014)

The explanation for the gap between the availability of mobile Internet and adoption might be affordability – the cost might put Internet access out of reach of many. However, here again recent evidence is encouraging. Based on the numbers available for 2013, the cost of mobile broadband was 3.23% of average per capita income, well below the maximum threshold rate of 5% put forward by the ITU Broadband Commission on Digital Development. Fixed broadband, at a cost of 1.42% of average per capita income, is yet more affordable where available.

To learn what the main barriers to Internet adoption are if not availability and affordability, we turn to an annual ICT survey carried out by the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (CETIC) in Brazil. This is an invaluable and rare resource, not just because it has been repeated yearly since 2006, but also because it asks individuals and households who are not on the Internet for their reasons.

The following chart tracks the main reasons that non-Internet users gave from 2007 to 2013 – individuals could choose as many reasons as were relevant to them. The results confirmed, in particular, that availability and affordability were not significant issues, as only one-quarter of non-users gave those as reasons. On the other hand, 70% cited a lack of need or interest and 70% also cited a lack of skills, as significant reasons.

Figure 3 . Source CETIC Brazil (2014)

This suggests a key area of focus for stakeholders seeking to increase adoption should be to focus on the demand-side – to provide relevant local content to interest non-users and training to enable them to get online. The supply-side issues – availability and affordability of access – are still important, but secondary, according to the survey results.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that the survey numbers in Figure 3 are not representative of the entire population, but represent the reasons cited by an ever-decreasing pool of non-Internet users. As shown by the black line in the graph below, the number of users in the survey who have not used the Internet was steadily decreasing. Thus, while 70% of non-users cited a lack of need or interest as a reason for not using the Internet in 2013, that represents about 29% of the population, a trend which has been fairly stable over time. The same is largely true for the other main trends.

Figure 4 . Source CETIC Brazil (2014)

As a result, it is important to focus efforts on this persistent minority of Brazilians who are not swayed by increased availability or lower costs. Delving further into the data, it appears that, within the group citing a lack of need or interest, there is relatively little difference by region, gender, education level, and income. The only factor for which there are significant differences is based on age group, where only 27% of 10-15 years cite a lack of need or interest as a reason not to adopt, while 81% of those over 60 cite that as a reason. For the other factors, there are even less differentiators across the various groups.

Figure 5 . Source CETIC Brazil (2014)

The conclusions drawn from this information are clear. As more users are covered by mobile Internet access, availability and affordability play less of a role in the decision not to adopt the Internet. For policy makers in Brazil, this draws valuable lessons that can help increase the number of Internet users, and thus allow its citizens to benefit from the many advantages offered by the Internet. We believe that these lessons are also true for other countries trying to increase the level of Internet adoption – for them, another lesson is the value of the detailed data gathered over the years by CETIC.

This article is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Categories
Growing the Internet Internet Governance

The Digital Divide is not Binary

Economic growth and social inclusion, critical issues for many countries, will be promoted by bringing the four-plus billion non-Internet users around the world online. The common view of this digital divide is that it separates the Internet ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots’; dividing those who are online from those who would like to get online, but are prevented based on the availability or affordability of access.

When It Comes to Solving the Digital Divide, We’re Missing Something

This binary view of the digital divide is fostered by a positive feedback loop – the ‘haves’ understandably assume everyone wants to join them, while those who face barriers in getting online understandably push for access. However, as shown in the first annual Internet Society Global Internet Report, there is an overlooked divide within the ‘have-nots’, between those who are interested to get online, and those who are not.

The graph below shows the population of each country, represented by a horizontal bar divided into three groups of citizens. First, the proportion of the population who are online, represented by the dark blue section on the left of each country’s bar. Second, those not online who indicate in surveys that they do not have online access or cannot afford access, represented by the lighter blue section on the right. Finally, those not online who state that they are not interested in going online, represented by the lightest blue section in the middle of each bar. 

As shown in the graph, in the countries surveyed, more non-Internet users indicate that they are not online because of a lack of interest, understanding or time, rather than the affordability or availability of access. This holds true even in countries towards the bottom such as Colombia, where the affordability (represented in the figure by the green dot indicating the subscription price as a proportion of average income) is highest of all the countries surveyed.

While Getting Access is Key, It’s Only Half the Battle

These results suggest a nuanced approach to the digital divide, one that focuses not just on providing affordable and universal access to the Internet, but also on increasing interest in the use of the resulting access. In fact, we have seen that as the infrastructure necessary for Internet access is becoming more available in developing countries, efforts to close the digital divide have increasingly focused on promoting local content to develop interest in using the Internet and drive uptake.

However, it is not enough to ensure that content is relevant – for starters, in the right language – but it must also be accessible. Most, if not all, developing countries have local content, however, it is often located in Europe or the United States where hosting services are less expensive. In an Internet Society paper released last week, we show that hosting content abroad not only makes it more expensive and slower to access that content, it discourages the creation of new content.

We Need to Think Bigger

Policymakers must take a broad approach to bridge the digital divide – ensuring not just that affordable access is available, but also that there is demand that leads to adoption and usage. Only in this way will the full economic and social impact of the Internet be felt by all.

Categories
Growing the Internet

The Digital Divide is Not Binary

The common view of the digital divide is that it separates the Internet haves from the have-nots; dividing those who are online from those who would like to get online, but are prevented based on the availability or affordability of access.  

This view of the divide is fostered by a positive feedback loop – the haves understandably assume everyone wants to join them, while the have-nots understandably push for access.  However, as shown in the recently released Internet Society Global Internet Report, there is an overlooked divide within the have-nots, between those who are interested to get online, and those who are not.  

As shown in the figure below, in a series of country surveys, more non-Internet users indicate that they are not online because of a lack of interest, understanding or time, rather than the affordability or availability of access.  This suggests a nuanced approach to the digital divide, one that focuses not just on providing affordable and universal access to the Internet, but also on increasing interest to use the access.  As discussed in the report, in order to do so, content must be locally relevant – for starters, in the right language – and accessible, preferably hosted in-country to lower the latency and cost of access.

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