Venezuelans Have the Worst Internet and Censorship in the Region

Venezuelans Have the Worst Internet and Censorship in the Region

By Adriana Núñez Rabascall / Voice of America
January 09, 2020

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Venezuela is the country with the worst internet speed in the Americas, according to data from a U.S.-based diagnostic technology company. Subject matter experts say that communities that are far from the capital have even more difficulties accessing the network.

Fran Monroy, a Venezuelan journalist specialized in IT, said that according to the firm OOKLA, the average internet speed worldwide is 22 megabits per second.

“Our average internet speed is 3 megabits per second, which means we are below broadband standards, according to the International Telecommunication Union. The next one is Haiti [3.5], then Paraguay [4],” Monroy said.

In Latin America, the country with the best internet performance is Uruguay, with 12 megabits per second.

The specialist added that, in the last five years, Venezuela has lost 32 percent of users who connect using cellphones, due to the increased cost of cellular equipment.

He said that most communications take place through 3G technology, and that there are still no regulations for fifth-generation technology, or 5G.

“The farther you are from Caracas, the worse the connectivity and stability. There are places where all the connections are 2G. In other words, the chance to get a mobile data connection is non-existent.”

The Maduro regime announced that in November 2019 it would launch the plan Fiber Optics for the Home (Fibra Óptica al Hogar), aimed at bringing high-speed internet to all states, but it hasn’t been implemented so far.

“We will make advances on a massive deployment of 4G and 5G technologies that will be installed in Venezuela,” the regime said.

Activists for digital rights warn that Venezuelans not only have to deal with low-quality internet, but also with mass media and social media censorship from the State.

“The government not only blocks important news portals, but also YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter streaming sessions broadcast by the opposition — for hours. There are offices that systematically engage in exerting pressure every day on operators to block content online,” said Luis Carlos Díaz, an attorney specialized in digital rights.

A study from the Press and Society Institute said that, until September 2019, the websites of 49 national and foreign media had been blocked on several occasions.

In total, the report identified about 975 blocks on online portals during the evaluation period.