Today, we have the opportunity to take stock of what has happened in the field of telecommunications over the last four years. In one of the structural reforms, we seek to create an inclusive society for all through the use of this important tool, and above all assure that through it we continue to consolidate ourselves as a democratic country. When we see other countries closing themselves to the use of these technologies, that is when we can see the extent and the value of what we have achieved as a nation.
We are an open country. We are a country that aims for its society to have access to all these tools that are so indispensable, so fundamental, and offer access to universal knowledge and connectivity between Mexicans and the rest of the world. We are an open society. We are a country that continues to consolidate its democratic calling through this reform.
Four years ago, Mexico dared to propose a new paradigm and began a profound transformation in telecommunications and information technology. We did so conscious that the technological changes we underwent demanded that we establish the basis for a new model of development, based on connectivity and digital technology.
To avoid change would have been irresponsible. It would have meant condemning Mexico to backwardness. It would have meant depriving the population, especially children and young people, of the benefits of the digital era in their daily lives, in their education, and in their possibilities of entertainment and entrepreneurship. It would have impeded companies from being more efficient and competitive. It would have limited their access to advanced digital manufacturing, which generates products with high added value. It would have reduced the possibilities for Mexico to have modern telecommunications that incentivize a more productive economy and more inclusive development.
Therefore, in Mexico we decided to promote, without limitation, information and communication technologies. This is illustrated in the area of telecommunications, where today Mexico is almost unrecognizable from the way it was just four years ago. In this short period, the number of internet users in Mexico has grown by more than 60%; we have gone from 40 to 65 million, which means that today, 80% of our young people can connect to the internet. In the same period, the number of Mexicans with a cell phone grew by 20 million. Today, 80 million of our fellow citizens use this technology, which is, furthermore, the preferred medium to access the internet.
In the promotion of this intense process, I recognize the role of the Mexican Chamber of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technologies. As a demonstration of the process that we have driven together, the telecommunications sector has grown for the past four years at an annual rate of 10%. That is almost four times higher than the rate of the overall economy. Due to the fact that we have torn down barriers to investment during this administration, more than MXN230 billion in private funds have been allocated to telecommunications infrastructure.
This evolution is not a coincidence. Business leaders see the advantages of a sector that now is much more open to competition and innovation; a sector that has the certainty of being regulated by the Federal Institute of Telecommunications, which is autonomous and technically solid institution.
The reform is already producing tangible benefits for Mexican families. With the elimination of long-distance fees alone, we are saving MXN20 billion annually. In the same way, international long distance tariffs have shrunk by 40% and mobile phone tariffs by an average 43%. The reform has an important social dimension that we also must keep in mind. This could be the most important change that we have enacted: the reduction of the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who do not have it.
First, with the program México Conectado, people can access free broadband in more than 100,000 public spaces. Second, the network of Centros de Inclusión Digital Punto México Conectado, which was recently commended by the UN telecommunications organization, offers, in its 32 state centers, education and training in IT. Third, the transition to digital television has freed up the frequency of 700mhz, something, while complicated, is beneficial to the entire sector. At the end of the day, this frequency will allow us to develop the red compartida, or shared web. This will represent high quality and high-speed telecommunications coverage for an estimated 100 million Mexicans by the year 2024.
I am convinced that the future is being built today. These advances are only the beginning. The technological revolution is far from over. Therefore, we must continue evolving to fully incorporate ourselves in a world that is every day more globalized and more interdependent.
Some people think that the changes we have achieved in telecommunications were inevitable, that they would have occurred by themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many countries in the world that are currently falling behind because, unlike Mexico, they do not have the public policies, resources, or active participation of their telecommunications private sector.
It is our responsibility to assure that we stay the course in the implementation of a framework of absolute transparency and accountability. Together, we will continue to broaden the boundaries of what is possible.
Let us continue constructing a Mexico that is more prosperous, inclusive, competitive, productive, and most importantly, has more opportunities for its citizens.