The board of Brazilian telecoms watchdog Anatel has approved a set of minimum quality standards for mobile and fixed broadband service providers, the watchdog said in a statement.
Under the so-called general quality regulation, internet service providers (ISPs) will now have to ensure that average internet speeds are closer to the level contracted by the customer.
A year after the regulation enters into force, average monthly internet speeds must be at least 60% of that contracted by the customer. The rate surges to 70% the following year and 80% by the third year. The rules apply to operators with more than 50,000 subscribers.
Such issues have long been discussed at Anatel and have put ISPs and the watchdog at odds, especially regarding how and where the speed is to be measured. The regulation is considered one leg of the PGMU, a broader plan for universalization.
ISPs questioned Anatel's first proposal, which said the test would be made by users themselves through software downloaded on the mobile or fixed terminal. According to operators, such measurement could make the test inaccurate by not taking into account possible interferences in the users' own environment, such as insufficient memory capacity and a slow processor.
In a nod to the providers' claim, Anatel removed this measure from the approved regulation. Instead, an independent, outsourced entity will carry out the speed measurements. The format of this entity, however, has yet to be defined.
The regulation is slated to be published next week, following PGMU's established schedule.
MOBILE-FIXED PHONE CALLS
In related news, the regulator has also approved a midterm plan that aims to gradually reduce the cost of mobile-fixed phone calls.
According to Anatel, the price per minute of these calls will be cut 21% by 2014, going from the current 0.54 reais to 0.42 reais (US$0.32-0.25).
The regulator will establish gradual reductions over the next three years.