The government is making major investments to ensure that residents of rural areas have access to high-speed internet. While access is ubiquitous in urban areas, more needs to be done.
Peru’s economic growth has brought with it significant developments in the use of telecommunications technology. In 2005, fewer than 353,000 Peruvians were subscribed to broadband internet. By 2013, that number reached more than 1.5 million. Peru’s telecommunication industry has experienced a rapid growth in the last ten years, as the number of internet users shot up. The Peruvian Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática calculates that, in 2013, 39.2% of people older than 6 years of age were internet users. Nevertheless, although this progress has been most pronounced in metropolitan and urban areas, the development in the rural areas has been slow. In 2013, only 10.9% of the rural inhabitants were internet users.
Peru is highly centralized; out of the 31.1 million inhabitants, more than 9.7 million live in the metropolitan area of Lima. Due to the difficulties presented by Peru’s geography and the centralization of services in Lima, the infrastructure gap between the provinces and Lima has grown in the last years, particularly in the telecommunications sector.
The government has acknowledged this problem and has started a series of programs that aim to reduce the technology gap between the urban and rural zones. One of the most important programs is the Programa de Implementación de Telecomunicación Rural (Rural Telecommunication Implementation Program), organized by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The intention of this program is to amplify the coverage of telecommunication services throughout rural areas, with the aim of supporting rural economic development. This program aims to improve communications infrastructure and promote the use of internet in the most remote parts of the country. Through the program, the government will build more than 1,000 centers in rural locations where local people have free access to computers with high-speed internet. The program targets settlements of at least 300 local inhabitants that have at least 1,800 people living in their zones of influence. The settlements must also have permanent access to electricity and must not have any other form of continuous public internet access
However, the most important project right now is the Red Dorsal Nacional Fibra Óptica (National Fiber-optic Backbone — RDFO), which will connect 180 out of the 196 provincial capitals as well as 22 regional capitals with a 13,000km of optical fiber network. The estimated investment stands at $323 million. The program intends to improve the quality of life for Peruvian people by providing a high-quality internet connection, as well as reducing the cost of internet access in rural areas by around 80%. Monthly internet subscriptions in rural areas currently can reach more than $200, but are expected to drop to around $27. This will help not only households but also commercial and industrial sectors by improving the speed and quality of their communications.
As a result, the Peruvian State plans to have more than 40,000km of fiber-optic cable laid by 2017. The ultimate target of the Ministry of Transport and Communications is to provide universal coverage for telecommunications services in Peru. The project is being developed through a concession to the Mexican consortium TV Azteca-Tendai, although it will ultimately belong to the state. The government will provide the resources for the construction and operation through a concession of 20 years.