Last updated: 8 December 2014
The number of broadband connections in Brazil has expanded significantly in recent years, with new technologies and more affordable plans being introduced.
In this article we will look at the most common broadband technologies in Brazil and what are the regulations for this sector.
Internet connections in Brazil
Since the first waves of adoption in the early 1990’s, internet connections took some time to fully take off in Brazil. Until recent developments, even basic internet services were considered costly and of underwhelming quality, as the country’s infrastructure was marginally developed and regulation for the sector allowed for abusive behaviour by service providers.
Over the last few years, a massive expansion of the country’s backbone, partly because of the government-lead Programa Nacional de Banda Larga, allied with policies to offer quality broadband access to the population at low costs, led to a large increase in broadband access, an all-around price reduction for connections and a small increase in average connection speeds.
Broadband connections are currently found in over 35% of the country’s households, with expansions expected in the near future. Internet speeds are measured at an average of 2,6 Mbps, a number closely related to the acquisitions of affordable 2 Mbps plans.
Minimum Connection Speed Regulation
In an effort to increase the quality of broadband connections and guarantee consumer rights, the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency, Anatel, instituted new regulations regarding the minimum connection speeds delivered by the country’s internet providers.
Prior to 2012, it was common practice for Brazilian internet providers to deliver close to 10% of the advertised connection speeds. That year, Anatel released new regulations that did not allow internet providers to deliver less than 20% of the advertised speeds at any time, nor deliver less than 60% of the total speed per month. This threshold increased over the years, with current limits of 40% instantly-verifiable speeds and 80% total monthly speeds being introduced in November 2014.
Brazilian broadband connections employ a variety of technologies to reach the end user, some of which are used by a minor fraction of the population. ATM, MMDS, Frame Relay, WIMAX and HFC, for example, are some of the connection technologies currently in use in Brazil the combined accounts amount to less than 2% of all broadband connections in the country.
Other technologies account for the majority of the ones found in Brazilian households, such as:
Different types of DSL, such as ADSL, are found in more than 55% of all broadband connected households in Brazil. The massive adoption of this technology can be attributed to the low cost and ease of installation, since it shares the same wiring used by telephones and internet infrastructure can be very precarious in some regions of the country.
DSL technology is also used for distribution of broadband access in older buildings where fiber is available on the curb but it is difficult to perform fiber distribution internally in the building.
Used by over 30% of all internet connections, cable modem is one of the most popular broadband connections in Brazil. The shared infrastructure with cable TV allows this type of broadband to be offered in bundles with TV subscriptions, an appealing offer to Brazilian customers. Even though the technology can hardly be considered recent, its market share has been marginally increasing in the country over the last few years.
Radio based transmission is used in around 5% of all broadband internet connections in Brazil. A deciding factor in its adoption is the possibility to cover areas that are difficult to reach, as well as implement a viable connection structure to municipalities far from big, connected metropolitan centres. Even though the quality of these links are considered questionable, this technology has maintained its presence in Brazil over the last few years.
New technologies in expansion
Some new technologies in Brazil offer better speeds and reach than the older connection methods, even though their reach to customers, while in expansion, can be considered minimal. These are:
Last mile fiber-based access were introduced in Brazil in recent years and currently reach an expanding 3,6% of all the country’s connections. Due to infrastructure development, these high-speed connections are currently only available in big city centres and select municipalities.
Since the implementation of 4G LTE internet in Brazil in 2012, high speed mobile network modems have been offered by internet providers as means to serve quality connections to some areas that are difficult to reach. With a small number of covered regions and companies offering connections with this technology, LTE currently serves 0,3% of Brazilian broadband access.