Statistical reports in recent years have shown Internet and broadband penetration in Venezuela as below average for Latin America and much lower than would be expected, considering that Venezuela’s GDP per capita is the highest in the region. State-owned incumbent CANTV has a monopoly in the provision of ADSL, with which it dominates the broadband sector. The only competition comes from cable modems, wireless broadband, and satellite. As a result, ADSL in Venezuela is slower and more expensive than in other Latin American countries.
The Internet penetration rate was 57% at the beginning of 2017. Venezuela has 2 domestic satellite systems with 3 earth stations. There has been substantial improvement in telephone service in rural areas recently, as well as a substantial increase in digitalization of exchanges and trunk lines. A national interurban fiber-optic network capable of digital multimedia services was installed. Combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership about 125 per 100 persons.
Venezuela’s fixed-line teledensity remains relatively high for the region, though steady growth in the number of lines in recent years came to an end in 2015, when the number of lines in service fell 3.5% year-on-year. In the local telephony market, five companies compete with the state-owned incumbent. There are also many Internet service providers, although the market is dominated by the now state-owned CANTV.net which offers ADSL and dialup services. Broadband access in Venezuela is provided through ADSL, Cable, Satellite, EDGE, EV-DO, WiFi Hotspots and more recently WiMax. The National Telecommunications Commission (Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones – CONATEL) is the regulatory body of the telecoms sector.
Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for almost all export earnings and nearly half of the government’s revenue. In 2016, GDP contracted 10%, inflation hit 720%, people faced widespread shortages of consumer goods, and central bank international reserves dwindled. On the other hand, Venezuela managed to pay down its external debt and narrow its current account deficit. Domestic production and industry continues to severely underperform and the Venezuelan government continues to rely on imports to meet its basic food and consumer goods needs.
Falling oil prices since 2014 have aggravated Venezuela’s economic crisis. Insufficient access to dollars, price controls, and rigid labor regulations have led some US and multinational firms to reduce or shut down their Venezuelan operations. Market uncertainty and state oil company PDVSA’s poor cash flow have slowed investment in the petroleum sector, resulting in a decline in oil production.
CANTV is the main telephone service company in Venezuela, founded in 1930. The company had been privatized in 1991. It was re-nationalized in 2007 and is now the largest telecommunications provider in Venezuela. In addition to phone service, other services are divided into three subsidiaries wholly owned by CANTV, which handle internet access, cellular phone service, and directory services.