US embassy cable - 07MONTERREY947

NEW MEDIA IN MEXICO: A RISING FORCE

Identifier: 07MONTERREY947
Wikileaks: View 07MONTERREY947 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Monterrey
Created: 2007-11-21 19:07:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: KPAO TINT SOCI ECON MX
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO2869
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHNL
RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHMC #0947/01 3251907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211907Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2557
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3406
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 7874
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTERREY 000947 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO, TINT, SOCI, ECON, MX 
SUBJECT: NEW MEDIA IN MEXICO: A RISING FORCE 
 
MONTERREY 00000947  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. SUMMARY: Since the introduction of the internet in Mexico in 
1992, internet usage has grown exponentially among government, 
business and private individuals.  While poverty, lack of 
education and regional insufficiencies in telecommunications 
infrastructure inhibit internet use, more and more Mexicans - 
especially educated, middle-class young adults -- are using 
e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, web cams, blogs and 
social networking.  Internet journalism is growing in Mexico 
also -- in the future, engagement with new media will be an 
important aspect of public diplomacy in Mexico.  Mission Mexico 
will report on the Mission's new media outreach efforts septel. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
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BEGINNINGS OF THE INTERNET IN MEXICO 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. In 1992, the internet was first introduced in Mexico by 
MEXNET A.C.  In the following years, MEXNET began developing its 
internet services and in 1994 launched an experimental home 
page.  MEXNET was a university-based organization with the 
participation of, among others, the University of Guadalajara, 
the University of the Americas, the Technological Institute of 
Mexicali, and the Technological Institute of Monterrey.  Its 
primary focus was to establish a national internet network, and 
to create a culture of internet use.  As was the case in the 
U.S., engineering departments were the first to adopt the 
internet in Mexican universities. Social sciences and humanities 
took much longer. 
 
----------------------------- 
GOVERNMENT ACTIVE ON INTERNET 
----------------------------- 
 
3. Generally, public-sector internet initiatives were slow to 
develop in the 1990's, but government use of the internet has 
progressed considerably since then.  According to data compiled 
by the Mexican National Institute of Statistics, Geography and 
Informatics (INEGI), as of 2000, 94 percent of central 
government agencies and 75 percent of state agencies were using 
the internet to provide services and information to the public. 
Since 2001, dot.gov.mx domain registrations have grown an 
average of 25.5 percent per year and now number over 180,000. 
 
4. Now, the national government and most state and local 
governments have caught up, and in some ways even surpassed, the 
business and university sectors.  Every Mexican state has a web 
site and many have multiple web sites representing different 
state government agencies.  For instance, in the off-the beaten 
path state of Zacatecas, it is possible to request vital records 
(birth, marriage, and death certificates) via the web. Indeed, 
virtually every major Mexican city government has a web site, as 
do a large number of smaller cities and towns.  The Mexican 
government is now also working to broaden public computer and 
internet access by setting up "digital community centers" in 
cities and towns throughout the country.  The Mexican government 
initiated the e-Mexico project in 2001, with the goal of linking 
10,000 communities to the internet by 2006.  According to the 
e-Mexico web site, there were about 7,200 digital community 
centers throughout the nation as of 2005. 
 
------------------------------------ 
PRIVATE INTERNET USE VARIED, GROWING 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. In Mexico, netizens or cybercitizens spend an average of 
about two-and-a-half hours a day navigating the internet.  Most 
netizens are middle-class or upper-class young adults who have a 
college or post-graduate degree.  Mexico's Federal 
Telecommunications Commission estimates there were about 14 
million internet users (13.2 percent of Mexico's population) as 
of 2004.  The International Telecommunication Union estimates 
that in 2006, there were 16.9 internet users per 100 
inhabitants.  This compares to 15.21 for Venezuela, 14.49 for 
Colombia, 25.23 for Chile and 22.55 for Brazil.  Political, 
economic and cultural information (as well as sports and 
entertainment) are the most sought-after types of information on 
the internet in Mexico.  In addition to e-mail and internet 
navigation, Mexican netizens use technologies such as chat 
rooms, instant messaging, and web cams.  Also, many Mexican 
internet users have enough of a basic grasp of English to use 
technologies and software not yet translated into Spanish. 
While trends such as blogging and social networking are not as 
developed as in the United States, they are taking hold in 
Mexico.  The Mexican blog directory site, "Blogs Mexico," lists 
2,887 Mexican web logs, an increase from 436 about a year ago. 
 
6. Most Mexican home internet users access the internet through 
a dial-up modem to a local ISP, but broadband services are 
expanding throughout most of the country.  One of the principal 
barriers to broadband expansion is its cost - USD 35.10 per 
 
MONTERREY 00000947  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
month for mid-range broadband access, plus a USD 57.80 
subscriber charge and a USD 50.30 installation fee - a figure 
beyond the reach of many working-class households.  The number 
of users who access the internet from home - a key indicator of 
overall internet development - is still quite small and growth 
in home internet use (19 percent from 2000-2004) is slower than 
in any other category. (The overall user growth rate from 
2000-2004 was 24 percent.)  In 2000, slightly more than half of 
all Mexican internet users accessed the internet from home; in 
2004, it was only 39 percent.  According to Mexico's Federal 
Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL), about 5.5 million 
Mexicans access the internet from home.  This amounts to 
slightly more than five percent of Mexico's total population. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
TECHNOLOGY, INCOME GAPS = LESS INTERNET 
--------------------------------------- 
 
7. Another factor affecting internet use is the huge technology 
gap within Mexico.  For example, the industrially developed 
state of Nuevo Leon has more than six times the bandwidth and 
infrastructure of the state of Chiapas, and Baja California has 
more than four times Chiapas' bandwidth and infrastructure. 
 
8. Poverty also inhibits internet access for millions of 
Mexicans.  Data collected by the consulting firm Select Mexico 
(2004) show a wide disparity in internet use that corresponds to 
income disparities.  The analysis divides Mexico's populace into 
three income classes.  The bottom third consists of about 73 
percent of the Mexican population. Select found that only about 
17 percent of this group uses the internet.  By contrast, Select 
found that 46 percent of the upper income group, a group which 
makes up about 13 percent of the total population, uses the 
internet. 
 
------------------------------- 
INTERNET JOURNALISM HAS ARRIVED 
------------------------------- 
 
9. Internet journalism in Mexico, while not as widespread as in 
countries such as South Korea, Japan and the U.S., is growing. 
The increase in online journalism has been a response to the 
perceived need to disseminate information more quickly than can 
be done with traditional media.  To date, there exist more than 
157 online newspapers, 21 online radio stations, and 10 online 
television channels in Mexico.  The internet is currently the 
most studied of all media by Mexican researchers, (followed by 
TV). Some of the specific analyses on the changes that the .com 
revolution has brought about to journalism focus on the 
transformation of the professional journalist profile: now, more 
than ever, professional journalists have to be technologically 
adept, and internet savvy. 
 
10. COMMENT:  Our research and observations indicate that Mexico 
occupies the middle tier in terms of level of use of information 
technology.  While many of the poor and those in isolated 
regions do not have internet access, Mexico continues to develop 
its information technology infrastructure.  The number of home 
internet users is significant and growing, and increasing 
numbers of businesses and organizations have a presence on the 
web.  Perhaps the most surprising change is how the Mexican 
government is using the web to make itself more accessible and 
transparent.  In a nutshell, more and more people are getting 
their information from the web, and more and more institutions 
are offering information on the web.  In this environment, we 
can only expect that internet journalism will also continue to 
grow.  As that happens, our public diplomacy efforts here will 
have to include an ever greater emphasis on engaging and 
monitoring the new media.  END COMMENT. 
WILLIAMSON 

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