Nearly 20% of the Brazilian population have computers at home, and 14% have Internet access at their houses, according to data from the 2nd Survey on the Use of Information Technology and Communications in Brazil (TIC 2006).
The survey was conducted by the Center for Information and Management of Ponto BR, a non-profit organization established to implement the decisions of the Internet Managing Committee.
According to the Communications Director in charge of the survey, Mariana Balbone, from 2005 until now there has been a significant increase in the number of households with computers, from 16.6% to 19.6%.
"The increase in computer ownership was more pronounced among people in the middle and lower-middle classes. I believe this is so because the government created several credit programs for equipment purchase, such as ‘Computer for All’, and these cater to this segment of the population," she claimed.
Despite the increase in number of computers, the number of households with Internet access did not increase much from 2005 to 2006. Last year the figure was 13%, against 14.5% this year.
Balbone said that one of the explanations for the low growth rate is that government programs aim exclusively at equipment purchase, and not at Internet access.
"In addition to the equipment, one must pay for an Internet provider, and this represents a high cost for a large portion of the population. Some municipalities do not have a local provider, therefore Internet cost becomes very high," she said.
The survey also shows that 54.4% of the population never used a computer, and that 67% never accessed the Internet. "Inequalities in Brazil are reflected on computer access. Socio-economic factors influence access to Internet and computers. The higher the income in a given household, and the more educated the people in that household, the higher the access to computers and Internet," Balbone claimed.
The survey was conducted in July and August 2006. More than 10,000 interviews were conducted in urban areas all over the country.