World Cup rush leaves gaps in Brazil cell network

April 23, 2014

Brad Haynes & Luciana Bruno – Reuters, 4/23/2014

Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracanã stadium was in a frenzy. Brazil had trounced the Spanish world champions. Yet 73,000 soccer fans could scarcely send a text message to celebrate.

The final of the 2013 Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for this year’s World Cup, was a promising 3-0 victory for Brazil’s national team but a bad omen for its cellphone network.

Despite costly investments and another year to prepare, phone companies are still struggling to provide adequate coverage of key sites for the tournament starting in June.

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More than half of Brazilian households lack internet access

March 24, 2014

Angelica Mari – ZD Net, 3/24/2014

New research on telecommunications services in Brazil revealed that only 40.8 percent of households have internet access, the main barrier being the price of computing devices and access services.

The numbers of the research System of Indicators of Social Perception (SIPS), undertaken by the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) show that the remaining digitally excluded households do not have internet access due to not owning a computer (59.6 percent), not being able to afford access services (14.1 percent), not having the need for internet (8.7 percent) and not knowing how to use it (4.3 percent).

Regarding the price of the devices, 34 percent of the households that do not own a computer said they would pay between R$300 ($129) and R$800 ($344) for a computer. Most Brazilian large retailers sell basic desktops for at least R$1000 ($430), which partly explains the recent rise in popularity of low-cost tablets as entry-level computing devices.

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Brazil to drop local data storage rule in internet bill

March 20, 2014

Anthony Baodle – Reuters, 3/18/2014

Brazil will drop a controversial provision that would have forced global Internet companies to store data on Brazilian users inside the country to shield them from U.S. spying, a government minister said on Tuesday.

The rule was added last year to proposed Internet governance legislation after revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency had spied on the digital communications of Brazilians, including those of their President Dilma Rousseff and the country’s biggest company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Instead, the legislation will say that companies such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc are subject to Brazilian laws in cases involving information on Brazilians even if the data is stored abroad, congressional relations minister Ideli Salvatti told reporters.

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Brazil, Europe plan undersea cable to skirt U.S. spying

February 24, 2014

Robin Emmott – Reuters, 2/24/2014

Brazil and the European Union agreed on Monday to lay an undersea communications cable from Lisbon to Fortaleza to reduce Brazil’s reliance on the United States after Washington spied on Brasilia.

At a summit in Brussels, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the $185 million cable project was central to “guarantee the neutrality” of the Internet, signaling her desire to shield Brazil’s Internet traffic from U.S. surveillance.

“We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations. We don’t want businesses to be spied upon,” Rousseff told a joint news conference with the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.

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Submarine internet cable to link Brazil and Europe

January 16, 2014

AP – Economic Times, 1/16/2014

Brazil’s state-run telecom company Telebras has said that a submarine cable for Internet transmissions between Latin America’s biggest country and Europe will be laid starting this year.

Spokesman Ronald Valladao yesterday said the company’s board authorised Telebras to sign an agreement with Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables to lay and operate the cable. He said the $185 million project is expected to begin operating in early 2016.

Telebras will have a 35 per cent stake in the Brazilian company that will be formed to operate the trans-Atlantic cable while IslaLink will have a 45 per cent stake and another Brazilian partner will have a 20 per cent stake, Valladao said.

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Brazil braces for shift from four to three mobile operators

October 28, 2013

Joe Leahy & Daniel Thomas – Financial Times, 10/27/2013

In Brazil, it was once accepted wisdom that four telecom operators was the correct number to ensure good levels of profit versus competition.

But in recent weeks, events in Europe are being felt across the Atlantic as Telecom Italia prepares for a possible sale of its Brazilian asset, Tim Participações, a manoeuvre that could leave the Latin American market with only three major players.

This is already having repercussions among rivals with Portugal Telecom and Brazil’s Oi signing up for a merger ostensibly to prepare themselves for consolidation.

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Brazil wants Internet independence from the US

October 4, 2013

Astrid Prange & Janara Nicoletti – Deutsche Welle, 10/03/2013

Brazil has decided to free itself from the embrace of its big brother to the north. Ever since the NSA data spying affair became known, the government has begun looking for ways to decentralize global data communication.

“It doesn’t make sense for data between Brazil and Uruguay to run via Miami,” says the Brazilian secretary of state of telecommunication, Maximiliano Martinhao. He told Deutsche Welle that, ever since the NSA revelations, the long-planned development of South America’s own fast Internet infrastructure has become a major priority.

Martinhao says that preparations are already completed for the so-called Optical Ring, which will join twelve South American countries with each other, as well as with Europe and Africa. The project encompasses some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of optical cable, and work on laying the cables will start at the beginning of 2014.

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NSA spying gives advantage to Brazil’s local tech firms

September 19, 2013

Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg, 09/18/2013

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and Huawei Technologies Co. are losing clout in the world’s fifth-largest telecommunications market as Brazil’s government backs smaller local companies that pledge to block foreign spying.

Officials have intensified conversations with communications hardware makers such as Padtec SA and Datacom, betting they can get greater protection against the possibility of so-called back-door security holes in foreign-made products. While discussions have focused on government-operated networks for now, they open the door for the companies to take a greater role in the networks of Brazil’s publicly traded phone carriers.

Allegations that the U.S. was snooping on its South American ally led Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff this week to cancel a state visit to Washington. The rising tensions are creating opportunities for closely held Padtec and Datacom, which had already established government ties through contracts with state-owned Telecomunicacoes Brasileiras SA. (TELB3)

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Soros-backed telecom venture to invest over $200 million in Brazil

August 7, 2013

Brad Haynes – Reuters, 08/06/2013

A new Brazilian telecommunications company backed by billionaire financier George Soros plans to invest at least 500 million reais (US$218 million) over the next three years, executives said on Tuesday, ramping up competition among Internet providers in a cooling market.

A fund run by Soros is set to invest at least $150 million, giving him a majority stake in On Telecom, which offers home and office connections over fourth-generation (4G) cellular networks, Chief Executive Officer Fares Nassar said at a news conference.

The technology is aimed at markets with little or no broadband cable coverage, exploiting a lack of fixed-line investments in many regions. By the same token, Brazil’s mobile phone market exploded over the past decade as cellphones became a first telephone line for millions of remote households.

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What the N.S.A wants in Brazil

July 25, 2013

Ryan Lizza – The New Yorker, 07/24/2013

One of the more curious revelations from Edward Snowden’s trove of secret N.S.A. documents was a recent report that United States spy agencies have been vacuuming up communications in Brazil. Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, broke this story in O Globo, one of that country’s major newspapers, on July 6th. Greenwald, in an follow-up piece in the Guardian, pointed to a rough Google translation of his original July 6th report:

In the last decade, people residing or in transit in Brazil, as well as companies operating in the country, have become targets of espionage National Security Agency of the United States (National Security Agency – NSA, its acronym in English). There are no precise figures, but last January Brazil was just behind the United States, which had 2.3 billion phone calls and messages spied.…

Brazil, with extensive public and private networks scanned, operated by large telecommunications companies and internet, is highlighted on maps of the U.S. agency focus primarily on voice traffic and data (origin and destination), along with nations such as China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan. It is uncertain how many people and companies spied in Brazil. But there is evidence that the volume of data captured by the filtering system in the local telephone networks and the Internet is constant and large scale.

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