The series IT’s Brazil will examine the components of the government’s strategy around technology and in this first article, we cover the National Broadband Plan.
What is the Brazilian National Broadband Plan?
A new proposal for a National Broadband Plan (PNBL) was launched in May 2010 with the aim of providing mass internet coverage at low prices until 2014.
The aim is to take 11,9 million households online over the duration of the plan, while promoting the growth of the telecommunications infrastructure of the country.
What are the Plan’s goals?
According to the Ministry of Communications, the objectives of the PNBL are:
- Accelerate the entry of the population in the modern information society;
- Promote greater diffusion of e-government services to citizens and facilitate the use of state services;
- Contribute to the evolution of telecommunications networks in the country towards new paradigms of technology and architecture looming on the horizon, based on communications over IP;
- Contribute to the industrial and technological development of the country – particularly the sector of information and communication technologies (ICTs);
- Improve the competitiveness of Brazilian companies, especially those in the ICT sector, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises of other economic sectors;
- Contribute to the increase of employment in the country;
- Contribute to the growth of Brazilian GDP.
What is the current broadband offer in Brazil and how will the Plan change that?
The government is looking to enforce minimum speeds of 1 Mbps with prices starting at R$35 ($23). Plans under that specification, which would enable a user to download a 1.2GB file in 2 hours and 40 minutes, are currently offered at about R$45 ($26) on average by internet service providers in the state of São Paulo.
How much will the project cost?
It is estimated that the expenses incurred for the PNBL between 2010 and 2014 will total R$13bn ($8.5bn).
Who is responsible for implementing the PNBL?
State-owned Telecomunicações Brasileiras (Telebrás) is responsible for the implementation of the plan, with private sector telcos acting in a complementary manner. Telebrás is in charge of bringing internet access to public spaces such as universities, schools and hospitals.
Telebrás is also responsible for gathering the necessary public infrastructure to deliver the project, an example being the deal signed with Petrobrás whereby the oil giant will allow its fiber optic network to be used for the PNBL.
Have any companies signed up to take part in the PNBL?
Telcos Claro, TIM, Sky and GVT have already signed contracts with Telebrás to offer internet packages under the National Broadband Plan.
What are the key milestones for the rollout of the Broadband Plan?
The government does not have a formal calendar for the stages in which the project will be implemented.
Who will benefit from the cheap internet?
According to Telebrás, about 100 Brazilian cities will benefit from the PNBL. The list does not include cities from the Southern region of the country. It predominantly covers the Northeast region, with more than 50 cities listed; the Southeast, where São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are located, has had 30 cities included in the plan.
The states with more cities listed are Bahia, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, with eight each. Cities from the Midwest and North which will benefit from the plan are located are Goiás and Tocantins, respectively.
Shouldn’t internet access be free for the poor?
In theory, yes. However, the communications minister Paulo Bernardo was recently quoted as saying that the government “may” subsidize internet access for the poorer masses but free access is out of the question. “We have no intention to give free internet to all cities in the country – not even water is like that,” he said.
Photo by Trevor Williams licensed under Creative Commons