Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Portugal's National Technological Plan: what every country needs

I'm flying out to Lisbon tomorrow for some client and prospective client meetings. I've not been over there for a little while and I'm hearing really good things about the strides being made in pushing mobile broadband adoption.

If you've been watching the market you'll have probably seen this announcement back in May 2008, that mobile broadband connections now exceed fixed. There is a definitional issue around what counts as "mobile broadband" and the growth of laptop connectivity has been slightly less spectacular, but even stripping out handset-based mobile internet, the figures are still impressive. Portugal has one of the highest mobile broadband penetration rates in the world.

The reasons for this aren't the same as they are in other high penetration markets such as Austria (i.e. poor DSL infrastructure and high DSL prices, very competitive market, greenfield 3G operator). In Portugal it can be much more closely attributed to government strategy.

With the publishing of the National Technological Plan in 2005 the Portuguese government committed itself to (amongst other things) increasing spending on technology R&D, investing in IT training and providing broadband connectivity to schools through the e.escola initiative. Mobile broadband has been one of the major beneficiaries of government intervention. Laptop penetration has grown massively, not least because they have been given out to hundreds of thousands of school pupils. Of course the mobile operators have also been integral to the success of the government plans and are directly responsible for making the NTP a success.

I should have more on the state of MBB in Portugal when I return.

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