Colombia: increase in internet usage due to the COVID-19 outbreak 2020

The usage of WhatsApp in Colombia during the COVID-19 outbreak was predicted to increase by five times compared to the regular usage. The use of fixed-line internet was projected to increase by 40 percent. Mobile internet usage was forecast to increase by 25 percent, while mobile voice services were expected to experience a 50 percent usage spike. On March 16, 2020 Colombian president Iván Duque announced that Colombia would be closing borders to limit the spread of the virus. At that point in time, the country reported over 50 positive cases.

Measures taken by authorities

A couple of days later, the Colombian government issued a COVID-19 related decree which, among many other things, recognized telecommunications services as essential and ruled that their provision could not be suspended for lack of payment. To take some strain off service providers, payments which telecommunication companies were under normal circumstances expected to make for concessions, licenses, permits and authorizations, were suspended until end of May 2020.

Changes in consumption patterns

The extreme increase in usage of various telecommunication services, owing among others to a large share of population working remotely and using residential broadband networks to process what normally would be handled by corporate lines, strained the networks. In Colombia, mobile internet connections worked 3.5 percent slower in March 2020 than they did in February 2020, whereas the speed of fixed-line internet connections dropped by as much as ten percent. On the other hand, as manufacturing and construction activities were limited or entirely suspended, the electricity demand in Colombia decreased by 14 percent.

Change in the usage of WhatsApp and telecommunication services in Colombia during the COVID-19 outbreak as of March 2020

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Release date

March 2020



Survey time period

March 2020

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