Brazil has 155 million internet users, according to research

Most access the internet by cell phone. Three out of four Brazilians access the internet, which is equivalent to 155 million people. Although the number of users and online services used have increased, differences in income, gender, race and regions still persist.

The information comes from the TIC 2019 survey, the most important survey on access to information and communication technologies, carried out by the Regional Center for the Development of Studies on the Information Society (Cetic.br), linked to the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil.

According to the study, 74% of Brazilians accessed the internet at least once in the last three months. Another 26% remain disconnected. If you consider people who use applications that need an internet connection (such as Uber or meal delivery services), the percentage rises to 79%. 10 years ago, 41% of the population was in this condition. Since then, growth has taken place at an average of 3.3% per year.

Access had similar rates between women (74%) and men (73%). But the survey data show differences among Brazilians. The index varies between people in urban (77%) and rural (53%) areas. It was the first time that connectivity in the countryside surpassed half of the residents in these places.

The percentage also differs between whites (75%), browns (76%), blacks (71%), yellows (68%) and indigenous (65%). In terms of education, 97% of users who have higher education access the web and 16% of illiterate or early childhood education users use the internet.

In terms of income, the level of access was 61% among those earning less than one minimum wage, 86% among those earning three to five minimum wages, and 94% among users with remuneration above 10 minimum wages. The index is also different between participants in the workforce (81%) and those outside of work activities (64%).

Devices

Regarding the device, smartphones and other mobile devices are the most common tools to connect (99%), followed by computers (42%), TVs (37%) and video games (9%). The alternative for televisions grew 7% from 2018 to 2019, showing a new feature for the connection.

Of the total users, 58% do it only for this technology. In 2014, the percentage was higher by computer (80%) than by cell phone (76%), and since then the trend has reversed. In terms of socioeconomic characteristics, the exclusivity of mobile access was greater in the countryside (79%) than in cities (56%), among blacks (65%) than among whites (51%) and in classes D and E (85 %) than in A (11%).

The dependence of many Brazilians on mobile devices impacts the quality of access, since this modality has franchises with a limited amount of data, which restricts the amount of services that can be used throughout the month.

Digital Technologies

According to the survey, 58% of people have used a computer. In the cuts by gender and race, there was variation between women (55%) and men (62%) and between whites (63%), browns (57%), blacks (55%), yellows (57%) and indigenous (48 %). In the assessment by income, there is also a difference between those who earn up to one minimum wage (41%) and more than 10 minimum wages (92%). In urban areas, the rate is 62%, while in rural areas it is 32%.

Use

Regarding the frequency of use, 90% reported accessing every day, 7% at least once a week and 2% at least once a month.

The most used features are sending messages via WhatsApp, Skype or Facebook Messenger (92%), social networks such as Facebook or Snapchat (76%), video calls via Skype or WhatsApp (73%), access to e-government services (68%), sending emails (58%), e-commerce purchases (39%) and participation in lists or forums (11%).

The most sought-after information was about products and services (59%), health services (47%), payments or financial transactions (33%) and travel and accommodation (31%). In the area of education and work, the most common practices were school surveys (41%), self-study online (40%), work activities (33%) and data storage (28%).

In the assessment of the manager of Cetic.br, Alexandre Barbosa, the survey data show that “although access is increasing, the more sophisticated use is still in the hands of people of higher class, income and education”, since there are several uses (such as consumption of streaming services, online courses and e-government) are more common among wealthier and more formally educated than in other segments.

Due to this situation, Barbosa defends the need to be concerned “with the development of digital skills for everyone, considering that competences that we do not have today will be required” regarding these digital technologies.

Assessment

The executive president of the Union of Telecommunications Operators (SindiTelebrasil), Marcos Ferrari, highlights that the results show an evolution of accesses in the country, but still show challenges to the inclusion of more Brazilians, especially those with low income.

“Among the challenges are the high tax burden, which in 2019 reached 47.7% of services and collected BRL 65 billion in taxes; outdated municipal legislation that makes it difficult to install antennas; and the lack of effective application of resources from the sectorial funds, which have already collected R$ 113 billion since 2001, and only 8% were used by the government in telecom projects”, he analyzes.

Flávia Lefévre, a lawyer and member of the Rights on the Network Coalition and the Internet Steering Committee, highlights the situation of inequality evidenced by the study and points out that overcoming it requires more effective government actions in the area.

“We see that public policies aimed at access need to be worked on and need a lot of investment so that infrastructure can reach both remote areas and the peripheries of large urban centers. The situation of lack of investment is due to the inaction of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations [MCTIC] and the National Telecommunications Agency [Anatel] to resolve regulatory barriers to using public funding that does not revert to digital inclusion”, she comments.