Uruguay - Country Commercial Guide
Information and Communication Technology
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As the first country in the world to pass a one laptop per child policy, Uruguay is a technology-literate country with strong connectivity.  Overall, Uruguay has one of South America’s highest literacy rates (over 98 percent), the telecommunications network is 100 percent digital, and the internet penetration rate is one of the highest in Latin America (90 percent).  Uruguay is among the first in Latin America in internet access, mobile internet speed, and of homes and companies connected country-wide with fiber-optic.  It also hosts one of the best Data Centers in Latin America and has several subsea-internet-cable connections with the U.S. In Latin America, Uruguay also ranks first in the E-Government Development Index.

Uruguay plans to invest heavily in infrastructure, technology, modernization systems, expansion of connectivity, implementation of 5G, and in new digital services.  In May 2021, Uruguay approved the 2025 Digital Agenda, the country’s roadmap for future digital development.  The program is managed by Uruguay’s e-Government and Knowledge Management Agency, AGESIC, and will create opportunities for software and hardware providers, as well as telecom and network services companies, among others.  The plan includes expansion of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks to locations with less than 3,000 inhabitants, the assignment of new spectrum bands for mobile technology, increasing 5G coverage and the adoption of digital health services.  In telehealth, opportunities are expected for the development of digital prescription services, the integration of electronic medical records, and the modernization of the medical communication processes.

Since June 2022, several cable operators were granted permission to offer internet services, ending the telecommunications state-owned company’s monopoly.  In May 2023, Uruguay conducted a spectrum auction for the 3.5 GHz band for a license period of 25 years for 5G uses.  The three existing telecommunication operators: state-owned ANTEL, Spain’s Telefonica, and México’s América Movil Claro were awarded spectrum and are now preparing to deploy their 5G services.  ANTEL plans to invest $43 million in 5G deployment during 2023. 

Uruguay is one of the largest per-capita exporters of software in Latin America, with the U.S. being its main market, purchasing between 60 and 70 percent of its software exports.  Uruguay’s total IT and telecommunications equipment imports increased from $549 million in 2021 to $706 million in 2022.  The total U.S. IT and telecommunications equipment imports increased from $44 in 2021 to $49 in 2022 but its market share decreased in the same period from 10 percent (in second place after China at 61 percent) to 7 percent in (in third place after China at 64 percent and Vietnam at 8 percent). 

ICT Export Opportunities to Uruguay

Since Uruguay does not manufacture computer hardware, further growth in Internet usage is expected to generate greater demand for computer and other hardware imports.  In 2022, state-owned ANTEL was the largest overall importer of telecommunications equipment with 24 percent of the total, followed by Spain’s Telefonica with 6 percent and “Plan Ceibal” (Uruguay’s center of educational innovation and digital technologies) with 3 percent. 

Uruguay’s Mobile Services almost double the entire population and cellular handsets make up 31 percent of the total telecommunications imports.  Three carriers share Uruguay’s mobile market: ANTEL with 57 percent market share, Spain’s Telefonica/Movistar with 26 percent, and Mexico’s Claro with 17 percent.

Uruguay plans to increase access to fiber optic and broadband beyond its current 88 percent broadband internet access, 81 percent of it through fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) systems.  ANTEL plans to bring wireless broadband and additional fiber optic cable to replace old copper connections and connect rural areas of the country to the internet. 

While mobile penetration is already high at 94 percent of the country covered by LTE-4G, experts believe growth is still possible through the sale of new services, especially to smartphone users.  Content for teenagers and children continues to show strong growth and all three mobile carriers offer LTE–4G services and soon 5G.  Uruguay is planning to increase its focus on Internet of Things (IOT) development and public and private stakeholders have launched the “Open Digital Lab” test space for IOT technologies and applications.  In June 2023, Microsoft launched its AI & IoT Insider Lab, the first of its kind in Latin America and the third outside the United States.  This lab will help address various technological challenges for organizations in the region, as well as obtain expert guidance and recommendations to realize the full potential of artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

In 2021 (latest available), Uruguay exported more than US $600 million in IT Services to the United States.  From 2016 to 2021, over 65 percent of all of Uruguay’s IT exports went to the United States, an annual turnover more than double to that of commodities.

Uruguayan ICT firms are also interested in opening offices in the United States and represent the largest sector of participants in the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA foreign direct investment program. 

Uruguay has a thriving technology start-up culture and the company dLocal became the first Uruguayan firm to reach “unicorn” status with a $1 billion valuation prior to its listing on the NASDAQ in June 2021.  dLocal is only the second Uruguayan firm to be listed on a U.S. exchange. 

Multinational firms also consider Uruguay an excellent information technology hub for back office, data, and call centers.  Companies such as RCI, Amazon, Microsoft, Sabre, and PWC are among the many that have set up operations in Uruguay.  Uruguay is an important location for U.S. technology firms in developing innovation centers and regional hubs, while others are expanding their investments and infrastructure.

In 2023 Google launched a second proprietary Pan-American submarine cable, called Firmina, connecting the east coast of the United States to Argentina, with landing points in Brazil and Uruguay.  Uruguay already has a subsea cable, called Monet-Tannat, which was developed by Google in conjunction with Uruguayan state-owned telco, ANTEL. 

Uruguay received major recognition for joining the Digital Nations group in 2018 as the sole representative from the Latin American and Caribbean region.  Digital Nations is a collaborative network of the world’s leading digital governments with a common goal of harnessing digital technology to improve citizens’ lives.  The guiding principles of the Digital Nations encourage the development of connectivity, digital citizenship, teaching children to code, open government, open standards, open source, and citizen-centered government. 


Table: IT – Computer Hardware and Telecommunication Equipment 
 2020202120222023 estimated
Total Local Productionn/an/an/an/a
Total Exports30507176
Total Imports510549706794
Imports from the U.S.54444959
Total Market Size480499635718
Exchange Rates42.0143.553938

Source: Transaction database – USD million

HTSUS: 8471, 8473, 8517, 8518, 8523, 8525, 8527, 8528, 8529, 8543, 8544, 9001
Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports).

Leading Sub-Sectors

Cybersecurity opportunities

The government plans to improve the detection and response to cyber incidents through the implementation of new technologies that allow the application of predictive analysis and automated responses.  In 2019, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved an $8 million loan that will support the strengthening of Uruguay’s capacity to protect its digital space by improving its systems to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-attacks.  This loan is the IDB’s first loan specifically focused on cybersecurity.  Uruguay is ranked No. 3 in the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) America’s Global Cybersecurity Index and is one of the more advanced countries in the region according to the IDB.  Private companies perceive cybersecurity risk level as high with over 60 percent of respondents in a recent survey replying that they suffered a cyber related incident within the last three years.  The main challenges are the lack of operational capacity to monitor, detect and respond to incidents, as well as the lack of trained cybersecurity professionals.  These challenges create opportunities for U.S. cybersecurity companies that can provide training and software solutions.  There is high demand for cyber training, and preventive measures, along with advisory services, monitoring, management, and incident response.