The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the digital divide in Chile, with women and low-income families finding it extremely difficult to access education and government services online.
They are also struggling to make use of e-commerce and telehealth services, according to a survey jointly conducted by the Ibero-American Observatory of Digital Communications and Subtel.
People with lower income and education were found to be struggling to adopt remote-working practices as well.
Expensive mobile devices, patchy internet coverage, and poor electricity supply in rural areas were among the factors preventing thousands of Chileans from making the most of the World Wide Web, according to the report.
However, Chileans are aware of the importance of the internet, with a large majority of respondents in the survey regarding broadband as a basic amenity.
To bridge the gap on this digital divide, Chile is launching a series of initiatives worth more than US$2 billion, said senior telecom official Pamela Gidi in a statement.
Such initiatives alone, namely Fibra Óptica Nacional, Fibra Óptica Austral, and Ultima Milla, are expected to double the length of fiber optic cables currently available in the country.
In addition, Chile is preparing to deploy 5G networks, covering as many as 366 towns across its territory.
The study has revealed that millions of Chileans struggled to work from home as companies suddenly decided to move most of their employees to a remote environment following the outbreak of the pandemic.