Uruguay has announced that all fixed phone lines in the country will include free minimal ADSL service, for the one time price of the modem, $30 USD. The connection, is 256k async dsl with a 1gb per month traffic cap. The awesome thing is there is no monthly fee at all, it’s just part of your phone service! Uruguay already distributed over 300,000 laptops to all elementary school students in public schools, about %90 of the kids go to public schools. This means Uruguay’s well on it’s way towards having universal internet access in every home for free. It’s pretty cool that there’s now basically free internet with every phone line. I know we told a few friends and they sure were happy. Currently about %30 of uruguayan homes have minimal broadband, and their hope is to have it %60 within 2 years. Expanding the number of people who have the slowest possible broadband is a good thing, but it’s pretty useless if you’re trying to run a business. In our office we have had to order a bunch of phone lines, each with the puny 4M down 512k up ADSL. Currently there is no option for faster internet, regardless of how much you pay. We pay about $150 USD per month per connection/phone combo as it is. The first thing they’re doing is raising the upper connection limit to 10Meg down, unknown up. It’s a nice step forward, will let us hold off on getting more and more phonelines installed. We’ve got a bonded router, letting us treat two connections as one, but it’s hard to bond more than 2 connections. So when we do video chat with a client, we’ve got to pick a third uplink. It’s a pain. Getting 10M will help this situation some. Antel improving their routing and doing more peering agreements, getting more bandwidth directly to Europe or the US instead of just laying fiber to Brazil and Argentina would also help a lot. The most hopeful thing they announced was they’re going to start laying a fiber optic network directly to homes and businesses. It’s not clear if they’ll be offering 40Mbps or 100Mbps, and no uruguayan i’ve talked to actually believes it’ll work well, but it’s finally a proposal for real broadband. It makes running a medium size development shop and coworking space in Uruguay really viable.