Brazil set to unveil new broadband program next month

By
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brazilian telecom authorities are about to unveil a new program to expand broadband connectivity nationwide.

The program should be presented next month and include different forms of financing in a scenario of federal budget constraints.

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"We're making a diagnosis of demands for connectivity nationwide, taking into consideration broader aspects such as distant-learning education, e-health," André Borges, telecom secretary of the science, technology, innovation and communication ministry, told BNamericas at the sidelines of the Futurecom ICT conference in São Paulo.

Right before leaving office, the communications minister under former President Dilma Rousseff, André Figueiredo, unveiled in May a broadband program called Brasil Inteligente.

The goal was to expand broadband access and increase the average speed of fixed broadband nationwide, taking high-speed broadband to 95% of the country's population and fiber optics to 70% of municipalities by 2018.

The pillars of that plan included supporting small internet providers and connecting 30,000 urban and rural public schools with broadband, Wi-Fi and media centers.

A BIGGER PROGRAM

According to Borges, the Brasil Inteligente framework is now being considered as a component of the new plan, with most of it being reviewed to create a bigger program. Borges said, for example, that the goal will be extending the fiber optics backbone to 75% of the municipalities, up from the current 60%.

An independent consulting firm is working with authorities in the design of the program and it will no longer be called Brasil Inteligente.

Most of the program's resources will come from the private sector. Some funding will also come from the budget and telecom regulator Anatel's conduct adjustment term (TAC) program, which allows telcos swapping fines for investments.

After taking office, new ICT minister Gilberto Kassab already admitted changes to Brasil Inteligente. "I'm unaware of any project of this size that doesn't go through adjustments throughout its lifetime," Kassab said in May.