Small ISP, big ambitions: Investing to take broadband into the Amazon

Bnamericas Published: Friday, January 27, 2023
Small ISP, big ambitions: Investing to take broadband into the Amazon

The Amazon region is the most underserved in Brazil in terms of connectivity, whether due to the difficulty of rolling out technology in remote jungle terrain or because of economic and commercial reasons.

But these challenges and the lack of interest among the big operators to serve the less populated areas of the region are the drivers for Veloso Net, a small telecoms company founded in 2018, which is working to take connectivity to some of the most isolated parts of the rainforest.

After negotiating with Nokia for some time, the talks eventually broke down and Veloso ended up closing a contract with Huawei for radio and antenna equipment. This partnership began in 2021, Junior Veloso, the founder of Veloso Net, told BNamericas.

“They ended up offering cheaper, more practical solutions and with reduced time-to-delivery,” said Veloso, who did not give details of the cost of the equipment.

Veloso Net is a small ISP that was created in the city of Tefé in Amazonas state.

Deployments are taking place mainly on the banks of the adjacent Solimões River, the local name given to the upper stretches of the Amazon River from its confluence with the Rio Negro near Manaus to the Peruvian border. Veloso Net has already achieved 90% coverage of the locations along the 1,700km stretch of river.

By the end of 2023, the plan is to reach 12 more cities and 18 riverside towns. “We have a very good outlook for growth and investment. Our end goal is to cover all 62 municipalities in the interior of Amazonas state,” he said, although he did not provide details of the spending this would involve.

More than 20 sites have already been delivered by Huawei, each with an average coverage radius of 20km, according to the executive.

They are installed in towers about six meters tall, built by Veloso Net itself. In some very small locations, in exchange for the land provided for the towers by the local population, Veloso leaves the internet signal open and free of charge.

In larger towns and cities, the infrastructure also serves internet providers and even big operators under the wholesale format. In eight cities, Brazil's biggest mobile operator, Telefônica, uses Veloso Net's infrastructure, according to the CEO.

Veloso's network has already reached Tabatinga, a city in the westernmost part of Amazonas state, on the tri-national border with Colombia and Peru. There, the company's main focus is on serving other providers.

The distance from Tabatinga to Veloso's home city of Tefé is around 600km as the crow flies, but closer to 1,000km via the river. 


To connect the antennas, Veloso is using fiber purchased from another Chinese company, FiberHome. The cabling was passed along power transmission lines along the Solimões River and Veloso directly pays the local power concessionaire to use the lines, said the CEO.

Asked about the infrastructure provided by Norte Conectado, a project promoted by the government through Brazil's national research and education network RNP, Veloso said that the backbone's initial routes are not yet fully available nor are fully convergent with Veloso's own routes. He added that the company does not intend to use the fiber infrastructure.

The spectrum used for signal transmission with Huawei's radio equipment operates in the 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz frequencies, obtained by Veloso within regulator Anatel as a secondary use of spectrum

“The process for obtaining the license was relatively simple. It took us less than 90 days for approval from the regulator,” said Veloso.

In this format, ownership of the spectrum license is temporary, lasting around five years on average, while the frequency is idle and available. If a sale takes place in an auction, for example, the license expires.

“All frequencies for the region here are available. Nobody, no operator, bought these spectrums in the last auctions," said the executive.

According to Veloso, the radios provided by Huawei are multiband and are enabled for both 4G and 5G standards, although the latter is in the non-standalone format (NSA).

One challenge, however, is having affordable devices for the population of the region to connect to the 5G network. For that reason, Veloso said Huawei is working on cheaper 5G-enabled modems, costing around US$80 reach, initially being developed for Brisanet.

The executive is upbeat about the business. "A lot is yet to happen. But we're very confident about this project, he said."

Picture source: Veloso Net

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