Brazil's senate bans caps on fixed broadband plans

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Brazilian senators passed a bill Wednesday night banning telecom operators from placing data limits on fixed broadband plans.

After an agreement between the leaders of all parties, the text was discussed in the senate on a priority basis. It now goes to the lower house of congress for debate.

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The project makes amendments to the country's internet bill of rights (Marco Civil da Internet) to expressly veto this practice by local carriers. The bill makes no reference to mobile broadband plans.

The author of the project, senator Ricardo Ferraço, argued that limiting internet traffic was harmful to the public as it is essential daily activities.

According to the senator, "limiting the use of the internet would be terrible news in Brazil, something seen only in countries led by authoritarian governments, which curb their citizens' access to information."

Senator Ferraço said that the internet is a tool for citizenship and that the vast majority of countries adopt the fixed internet model with no data limits.

Last year, a public hearing held by different commissions in the senate brought together representatives of companies, consumers, telecom regulator Anatel and the Brazilian bar association (OAB) to discuss fixed broadband caps.

The controversy began after operators openly discussed cutting off services or throttling internet speeds once monthly data limits contracted by consumers were reached, forcing them to purchase additional data capacity or upgrade their broadband packages.

As public outcry and criticism from consumer defense organizations grew, watchdog Anatel initially issued a temporary ban and later barred carriers from adopting such measures indefinitely, until the issue had been debated.

Anatel is holding its own debate, launching a public consultation on the subject in November and extending the deadline in January. The deadline to submit comments through the regulator's platform was pushed back to April 30.