Uruguay: a technological revolution in a little more than a decade

The Latin American country made significant investments in information and communication technologies, and managed to position itself at the forefront of the region.
Publication date: 18/12/2019

Uruguay is a first-class business center that has achieved remarkable technological advances. The country has exceptional connectivity and Internet penetration. 85% of households have fixed broadband access (Internet via fiber optics or ADSL), of which 75% have fiber optic access to the home, with download speeds ranging from 30 to 120 Mbps.

100% of the country's public schools have connectivity. It is the only country in the world that provides free laptops to all public and secondary school students and is a global example of how to incorporate technology into education.

Uruguay is the most advanced Latin American country in ICT development. It has the highest fiber optic Internet penetration in homes and businesses, the most affordable price for Internet access, and is among the countries with the highest download speeds in the region. It also has one of the best Data Centers in Latin America (with TIER 3 certification and awarded as the best in Latin America in 2016) and several underwater cable systems with connection points in Argentina, Brazil and the United States (the latter with high capacity). These qualities and its business climate position it as a global service center for the region and the world.

It is one of the leaders in the adoption of the IPv6 protocol (eighth in the world and first in Latin America, according to the Google IPv6 country ranking). In addition, it is the first Latin American country to initiate the deployment of a 5G commercial mobile network and the third in the world. In April 2019, the state-owned telephone company ANTEL, together with Nokia, left the first 5G bases operational and ready to provide service in areas of the Maldonado and Cologne departments (https://www.speedtest.net/ookla-5g-map).

Thanks to important investments, the country stands out for its achievements in Information and Communication Technologies. Uruguay is the Latin American country with the highest number of fixed broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants, according to the ICT Development Index (ITU, 2018).

A significant increase in the speed of data traffic, combined with a very favorable environment for business development with modern free zones, first-class technological centers and attractive benefits, make Uruguay the number one in Latin America in e-services. No wonder more than 400 companies are choosing Uruguay as their base to serve the rest of the region.

Uruguay is part of the D9 - together with Canada, South Korea, Estonia, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Mexico and the United Kingdom - the most advanced countries in the world in terms of development and e-government, being its president in the current period. D9 promotes connectivity, digital citizenship, encryption for children, open government, standards and open source, people-centred governance.

To drive growth in the area of technology, Uruguay began by investing in its main resource: people. Inclusion in the digital world and in education was and will continue to be one of the pillars for achieving its goal of reliable and sustainable technological development.

Nicholas Negroponte, president of One Laptop Per Child, MIT Media Lab, said about this initiative: "We congratulate Uruguay for being the first country to take specific steps to provide laptops to all children and school teachers. We hope other countries will follow suit.

Thanks to Plan Ceibal, the pioneering One Laptop per Child initiative the country launched in 2007, Uruguay became the first country in the world to provide laptops to every child and teacher in every primary and secondary school in the public sector. Access to technology and knowledge has become universal, and the digital divide has narrowed significantly, with the access gap between the poorest and richest households increasing from 35 per cent to 8 per cent in 10 years.

Since 2015, the Plan Ibirapitá  has provided free tablets and Internet access to low-income older people. Now Plan Butia aims to develop robotics.

These are some of the reasons why Uruguay is associated with quality. Today international companies choose Uruguay as a place to develop technological products and services and as a place from which to launch their regional operations to the rest of Latin America.