Embratel to launch broadband, Wi-Fi services

Monday, December 29, 2003

Brazilian multiservice carrier Embratel launched Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) services for its corporate clients this week, and expects to unveil broadband Internet access services by the end of March, Embratel solutions development director Aloysio Xavier told BNamericas.

The operator aims to increase client loyalty with Wi-Fi, and does not expect significant revenue from the move. "[Wi-Fi] is not a business that generates a lot of revenue. But it complements the portfolio and adds value," Xavier said.

Within Brazil, the operator's Wi-Fi infrastructure partner is local outfit Vex, which charges operators for use of wireless local area networks (wireless LANs) it sets up in airports, cafes, hotels and other public buildings. Vex currently runs 100 hotspots all over Brazil, and aims to expand the network to 500 by end-2004.

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Outside Brazil, Embratel Business Dial clients can use the service in 150 countries, through Embratel partnerships with US carrier MCI and US Wi-Fi connectivity providers iPass and Gric.

During November and December, Brazil's three major broadband access operators Brasil Telecom, Telesp and Telemar launched Wi-Fi services.

Embratel plans to offer broadband services to corporations within three months, following the completion of a Next Generation Network (NGN) by Chinese supplier Huawei, Xavier said. NGN equipment includes softswitches, broadband modems, media gateways and broadband remote access servers (BRAS). Embratel's competitive edge will be quality of service, according to Xavier.

The operator is also expanding its local telephony services network to six cities in Sao Paulo state, and 14 cities in the rest of Brazil: Campinas, Ribeirao Preto, Santos, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Sao Jose dos Campos and Sorocaba, Embratel said in a statement Monday. In order to win new customers, it charges for services per minute rather than per pulse, the method used by Brazil's local telephony incumbents. One pulse is counted as four minutes.

Embratel entered the local telephony market in November 2002, ending its four-year run as an exclusive long distance services operator. It has 1,800 local telephony clients in 94 cities. By the end of next year, the operator aims to offer local telephony services in all major cities.