FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (03/16/2000) - The spread of free Internet access throughout Latin America in part has prompted International Data Corp. (IDC) to revise its Net usage forecast for the region to 29.6 million users by 2003, up from the previous estimate of 19.1 million, the market research company said.
A number of ISPs (Internet service providers), carriers, vendors and even banks are offering free Internet service in Latin America, a region where cost is often cited as a major barrier to Net usage. The free Internet service trend emerged early this year in Brazil and has caught on throughout the region. Some of the companies offering free Internet access are Terra Networks SA, UOL Inc., IFX Corp. and Libertis.net.
As part of its revised five-year forecast, IDC pegged at 41 percent the compound annual growth rate of Internet users in Latin America between 1998 and 2003, up from 32 percent.
There were 8.7 million Internet users in the region in 1999, most of them in Brazil (41 percent), México (21 percent) and Argentina (10 percent), according to IDC.
By the end of this year, the number of Internet users is expected to hit 13.3 million, and then increase to 18.2 million in 2001, reaching 23.5 million in 2002, IDC said.
Other factors boosting Internet use in Latin America are a significant increase in PC penetration in México, initiatives by Chile's government to cut Internet-related phone rates, a more robust Net market in Brazil and the liberalization of Argentina's telecom market, IDC said.
Estimates about the Internet population in Latin America vary widely, and, even with this revision, IDC's forecast remains one of the most conservative among analyst companies.
New York-based market research company Jupiter Communications Inc. estimated 10.6 million Net users in Latin America last year, and predicts there will be 16 million by the end of this year, 23 million by 2001, 32 million by 2002 and 43.4 million by 2003.
Moreover, advertising agency Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi believes there will be 34 million online users in the region by the end of this year. [See "Latin American Online Sales To Hit US$525M in 2000," Oct. 27. 1999.]IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts, can be reached at 1-508-872-8200 or at http://www.idc.com/. The company's Latin America headquarters are in Miami and can be reached at +1-305-267-2616.