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The Internet in Venezuela

By Ivn R. Mndez
ISOC Ambassador at the Internet Governance Forum 2014 | @ivanxcaracas
At the beginning of August 2014, Venezuelas Offcial Internet regulator, CONA-
TEL (, published the
latest numbers on the Telecommunications
sector. Its report indicates that the internet
penetration in the country is 44%, althou-
gh over 51% of those users are grouped in
only three states: Caracas, Miranda and
Zulia. In other states like Apure, theres ba-
rely 13% penetration. These Internet con-
nections are made at the lowest speed in
South America (1.7mbps) and one of the
slowest in the world, according to NetIndeX.
In Venezuela, Human Rights are being violated continuously (illegal detentions,
political prisoners, tear gas repression, house raids and expropriation of com-
panies without legal basis) for over a decade. The Internet does not scape this
offcial conduct: blockage of web sites with unoffcial content or content that does
not please the government (for example, the Co-
lombian news channel The pu-
blic media promotes the violation and disclosure
of private content of email addresses of opposition
leaders or entrepreneurs, as well as encroachment
on their Twitter accounts. The most emblematic ca-
ses of 2014 were set forth in the student protests of
February, where the regime through CANTV, the
offcial carrier, generated a blackout on the Inter-
net by preventing the uploading of images of strong
repression to Twitter and drastically reducing the
speed of access to sites with not offcial propaganda.
The following are analytical components of what is happening in the Internet
Ecosystem in Venezuela, written by journalists and country analysts highlights.
Testimonials from Twitter, especially for the IGF 2014
@infocracia , journalist, columnist and Human Rights defender
Structural problems, digital divide between the connected and not connected, connection quality and political content
Internet Blockage
By Jorge Espinoza
Journalist and columnist of Inside Telecom | @JORGETELECOM
In February 2014, the main ISP in Venezuela,
CANTV, which handles around 80% of the tra-
ffc, completely or partially blocked access to a
Venezuelan federal entity where protests were
recorded against the presidential administra-
tion of Nicolas Maduro. The electricity was also
cut through the monopoly of the National Elec-
tric Corporation. It sought to silence the protesters and prevent the rest of the
country and the world to see the abuses of the military and police forces.
Venezuela is a black hole in cybercrime statistics
By Rafael Nez
Ethical Hacker, Tech communicator and consultant. |@enfoqueseguro
In Venezuela there is no institution carrying and publi-
shing statistics on cyber attacks. In Clean Perception we
receive approximately 45 weekly requests of recovery
by high-profle accounts. In the case of counterfeiting
Twitter accounts, it is made public only if the victim deci-
des to reveal it. On the other hand, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram handle different policies in these
cases and require a report to work on the matter, which
discourages the victims who choose simply to create
another profle.
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Testimonials from Twitter, especially for the IGF 2014
@antonioduarte55, Tech analyst and developer
Since there is no investment dollars in hardware and software, that will result in the service. Now youre seeing slow
and diffcult access.
Without democracy but with internet
By Fernando Nez Noda
Journalist and columnist of Huffngton Post | @nuneznoda
On February 12, the day of the strong student protests in
Venezuela, the Washington Beacon outlined this: Protestors
have already been shot with pellets, tear gas, and other
weapons by government-backed police, who have become
increasingly violent since Maduro banned street demonstra-
tions and ordered a widespread media blackout.
BBC World: The news blackout that has hit in recent days
the coverage of protests in Venezuela is having a cascading
effect on social media, to the point that some have trans-
formed into the circumstantial substitute for local media,
especially television
The blackout blinds a major segment of the population to what happens, since it has no
access or is not accustomed to Internet use. As it says in the BBC article by Marcelino Bisbal,
skilled communicator and scholar, networks work only for a hyper-informed elite -and not
elite in the evil sense- who can access information and produce it.
Over 60% of Internet traffc passes through the servers
of CANTV, the state telecommunications company. This
allows a non-democratic regime all kinds of maneuvers,
including espionage and interception of emails. Vene-
zuela exhibits the slowest Internet connection in the
Americas, surpassed only by Cuba. For the curious, the
Venezuelan connection is 1.98 Mbps download 16.7 vs
the world average.
Sources: |
Testimonials from Twitter, especially for the IGF 2014
@superdharma, Journalist, University Professor
CANTV centralizes everything and ends up having a political hue + foreign exchange con-
trol that also limits contained consumables
Lack of investment to upgrade platforms, since providers do not have access to foreign
exchange needed + lack of neutrality
@xtr3me_fx , engineering student UCV
We are among the last countries in terms of speed and access is limited. It should be a
necessity and not a luxury.
Smartphones sales drop in Venezuela
By William Pea
Journalist, Inside Telecom Editor. Tech Coordinator at TalCual | @williampm
Since the national government centralized the purcha-
se of mobile devices in 2008 through the creation of
state-owned Telecom Venezuela, importing phones fell
precipitously. About 15 million devices were sold in
2008, in 2013 the market closed with 3 million, a fall
of over 60% in the last fve years. The main reason of
the problem is the limitation of foreign exchange for the
import of equipment, together with Telecom Vene-
zuelas decision to only allow one purchase order of
equipment per year per carrier (who used to buy each
quarter and with no restrictions) and limited quantities
and models. With that decision, Telecom Venezuela, paralyzed a market that was not only
considered one of the liveliest in the region, but also was a leader in the Upper Premium
segment of the market with sales of close to 40% of total equipment sells (in the region the
average was 20%).
In recent years, this problem is affecting the countrys position on use of mobile and new
generation devices, of course, it has impacted the progress of the nation in innovation, apps
development, employment production, among others, for as technologies permeate society,
entrepreneurs attempt to connect their ideas with what is going on and, in the case of Vene-
zuela, that has not happening in recent years. The same problem is faced by the computer
industry, for about four years, the national government also limited the import of equipment
under the pretext of local production through joint ventures, but that business is not able to
meet the demands of a market that requires more than one million units annually. Today,
to get a mobile device or a computer is more than an ordeal, because those available are
extremely expensive and not all Venezuelans have this ability. The fght against speculation,
which brought us Telecom Venezuela, is still intact and the sole party in which it does not exist
is in the service operators, but they cannot get their devices or, when they arrive, they come
in ridiculous amounts and are sold in a short time.
Testimonials from Twitter, especially for the IGF 2014
@rociotata, philosopher and Director of @Cedice
I think the faws are all in access and structure, they are low quality, permanently falling and
malfunction of the broadband. Low speed.
@luiscarlos , journalist and activist
The Government controls the communications ineffciently. Its fallen behind. Lack of compe-
tition and foreign exchange.
@LuisbarraganJ, lawyer and congressman
Failure in State politics (Infocentros). Digital divide. Law system prone to censorship. The
connections should be free.
@kareta, journalist, 2.0 consultant
The biggest faw is the lack of investment in the sector. That has primarily political and econo-
mic reasons.
Low connection speed drives the Digital Divide
in Venezuela
By Alcides Len
Tech columnist and consultant. |@aleon1969
The connection speed is widening the digital divide in
Venezuela, isolating not only services that demand lots
of bandwidth, like video streaming or IPTV, but also
causing problems for keeping the computers updated.
For years, the government gave priority to extend
digital coverage to more people, neglecting the aspect
referred to performance, to the point that, according to
Net Index, Venezuelas bandwidth ranks 182, just 10
posts to the last country on the list, just beating Cuba,
a country whose bandwidth depends largely on Venezuela, after the laying of a submarine
cable to interconnect these two countries together with Jamaica. Paradoxically, Jamaica is
ranked 114 with three times the average bandwidth of Venezuela. Updates to operating
systems, antivirus signature fles and program updates usually take so long that the end users
decide to put it off, risking their devices and other equipment and data carried over the same
networks. Even free technologies, driven by the government end up being affected, like the
latest updates of OpenSuse systems, which are as large as their commercial counterparts.
The unipolar strategy of the government to expand access and improvement, forget about the
connection speed, which is greatly affected by the complicated process of gaining access to
foreign exchange to pay interconnection services, and is over-turning the Internet into an in-
complete experience for users in Venezuela. By analogy it is like learning to read, but without
understanding what is read.
Internet in Venezuela: The opportunities
By Ricardo Holmquist
President ISOC Venezuela. CAVEDATOS Director | @rihogris
The message from the government about free wif aims to
massify the Internet penetration in Venezuela, and with this goal
in mind, many things can be done. There are several additio-
nal opportunities in the horizon, the frst one is local, with the
enactment of the Info-Government Law (Ley de Infogobierno*)
on August 17, the State commits to place online most procedures
that are carried out today in person. This initiative will generate
local content to consume, which will encourage users to get
online. The second opportunity, more global, is the arrival of
Web 3.0 with the Internet of Things and its ecosystem of devices to be connected and we will
be forced to have Internet.
(*): Info-Government Law:
This Dossier is the product of ISOC Venezuelas invitation of participate, as an Ambassador,
to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2014.
The analysts Alcides Len, Jorge Espinoza, William Pea, Rafael Nez, Fernando Nuez
Noda and Ricardo Holmquist, president of ISOC Venezuela, contributed in its production with
their patience and brilliant insight.
The translation to English was made by Daniela Izaguirre Downing, my beloved wife.
This dossier was possible to the support of Corporacin XDV
My management and coverage of the the IGF in Turkey counted on the support of
ISOC | Samsung | Lenovo| Corporacin XDV
Grupo Plus | Tctica Comunicaciones | Elebece | Factum Comunicaciones
More info and Contact
Online version:
@ivanxcaracas | @opinionynoticia | email:
Caracas, Venezuela, August 2014.

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