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TITULO: Digital poverty

AÑO: 2010
ETIQUETAS: digital poverty, market reforms, information society, access

Over the past two decades, market reforms in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector have served as a powerful engine for infrastructure investments and service expansion in developing nations. In Latin America and the Caribbean, as in many other regions, more people have gained access to ICT services since market reforms started in the early 1990s than in the many decades that preceded these reforms. The economic and social benefits have been manifold. As the telephone, the Internet, and even older ICT such as broadcasting became more accessible and generally more affordable, more people began using them to access new markets and be more productive, to seek better healthcare, to take advantage of lifelong educational opportunities, to strengthen family and community bonds, and to demand better services and more accountability from their governments. 

Nonetheless there continue to be large numbers of people and communities without adequate access to ICT in the region. As the chapters that follow reveal, deepening reforms and strengthening regulatory competences are needed in many cases. However, these chapters also reveal the limitations of market reforms to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society penetrate across the multiple social and economic divides that characterize Latin America and the Caribbean. In the rush to attract private investments, privatize inefficient operators and establish new industry regulators, the adequate supply of ICT services to the more vulnerable sectors of the population and the more isolated communities was, for much of the 1990s, relegated to the policy backburner.

This book represents the first publication of the Regional Dialogue on the Information Society (REDIS-DIRSI), a regional network of leading researchers concerned with the creation and dissemination of knowledge that supports effective participation in the Information Society by the poor and marginalized communities of Latin America and the Caribbean. The chapters in this book reflect a diverse set of studies undertaken by DIRSI researchers under the common theme of pro-poor, pro-market ICT policies. This theme seeks to support next-generation reforms that build on the achievements of market liberalization efforts but at the same time address the realities of what we call digital poverty – a concept that grasps the multiple dimensions of inadequate levels of access to ICT services by people and organizations, as well as the barriers to their productive use.