Brazil sees growth in internet use in rural areas

The proportion of internet users in rural areas grew in Brazil compared to the pre-pandemic period, but high-speed connections and computers are still lacking, according to a new study published by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br).

Conducted by the Regional Center for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (Cetic.br) of the Information and Coordination Center of Ponto BR (NIC.br), the survey presents the latest indicators on access to and use of information technologies and communication (IT) in the country. According to the survey, internet use in remote locations in Brazil grew from 53% of those aged 10 and older in 2019 to 73% in 2021.

The research estimates that by 2021, 81% of the population aged 10 years and older will have used the internet in the past three months – equivalent to 148 million people. The share of grid users in the North (83%), South (83%) and Northeast (78%) regions has also increased significantly compared to 2019.

Households in rural Brazilian areas are also more connected to the internet, according to the survey. Between 2019 (the pre-pandemic period) and 2021, these regions saw a 20 percentage point increase in the share of households with access to the network, from 51% to 71%.

In connected households, the presence of cable or fiber as the primary connection to the network occurs in 61% of the households. The penetration of cable or fiber connections is lower in the North (53%) and Northeast region of the country (54%). In the North, the percentage of households with mobile networks as primary connection is also higher (33%).

“The study confirms the relevance of internet access in the context of the COVID-19 emergency, especially with the advancement of remote work and study activities. Compared to the period before the health crisis, there was an increase in the presence of the internet in households and in use by individuals, especially in rural areas,” said Alexandre Barbosa, manager at Cetic.br.

The presence of internet connectivity in households increased in all layers analyzed compared to the data collected in 2019. The growth was more noticeable in the poorest sections of the population (61%, an increase of 11 percentage points). From a connectivity perspective, inequality between the richest and poorest households has decreased in recent years, with the difference between these strata increasing from 85 percentage points in 2015 to 39 points in 2021.

Also according to the survey, the presence of computers in households remained at 39%, a level comparable to that in 2019. While there was a scenario of stability in upper class households, where computers are already more present (99% in the richest households). and 83% in upper middle class households), the proportion of households with a computer in the poorest households has fallen from 14% in 2019 to 10% in 2021. In rural areas, the presence of a computer in households is lower (20%) compared to households in urban locations (42%).

A separate study, also published by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, found that most Brazilians access the Internet only through smartphones. According to research published in August 2021, the majority of the country’s connected population does not have a PC and has limited access to activities such as distance learning.

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