Last updated: 9 October 2015
Since its creation in 1997, ANATEL has played an important role in the telecommunications sector in Brazil, publishing regulations and directives in order to help shape these services’ expansion in the country.
In this article, we will give an overview of the history of ANATEL and its most relevant contributions to the Brazilian telecoms sector.
ANATEL, or the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency, was created on November 5th 1997, by the General Law of Telecommunications, and was the second regulatory agency implemented in Brazil. The agency was created to conceive the current Brazilian telecommunications model, regulating and supervising the sector, with similar attributions to the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission. Up until 1997, the telecoms sector in Brazil was composed by state companies under the jurisdiction of Telebrás. Although related to the Ministry of Communications, ANATEL is an independent institution, both in terms of management and financially.
The independency of ANATEL is seen as an important tool to diminish the bureaucracy that can be involved in the creation of regulations for services and equipment homologation. The decisions made by the agency are final, decided by a management council of 5 representatives, which can only be revoked by judicial intervention. The freedom this process provides allows the agency to operate with more agility and efficiency, especially on more complex matters.
ANATEL Regulatory Responsibilities
The main responsibility given to ANATEL is to ensure the proper development and expansion of the telecommunications sector in Brazil, supplying user demand and ensuring fair play among providers. In 2013, the agency bylaws were updated by a resolution in order to fit ANATEL policies and responsibilities in the new technologic scenario, improving its efficiency in regulating telecommunication services.
Other responsibilities delegated to ANATEL are listed below:
- Ensure the population has access to telecom services, with affordable prices and adequate quality
- Encourage the expansion of telecommunication networks and services
- Enforce the applicable measurements to promote the competition between providers and service diversity in partnership with Brazil's Council for Economic Defence, also known as CADE, setting quality standards compatible with user demand
- Promote investment opportunities and industrial and technological development
- Implement, within the agency scope of attributions, the Brazilian policies for telecommunications
- Represent the country among other international telecom organizations
- Manage the available frequency spectrum and satellite orbit usage for telecommunications, creating applicable regulations
- Publish and authorize product homologation, according to the standards and regulations previously established
- Manage conflict of interests between telecommunication services providers
- Repress any infractions to user rights
- Act in the control, prevention and cease of infractions of economic order, unless those of responsability of CADE, which include the defense of competition
In order to ensure more proximity to different service sectors located throughout the country, ANATEL is present in every Brazilian state through management and operation offices. ANATEL is kept financially by resources from telecommunication taxes Fust, the Telecommunication Service Universalization Fund, and Funttel, or the Telecommunication Technologic Development Fund, both of which provide funding for the sector with resources originating from taxes and fines.
Importance of ANATEL in the Brazilian Telecom s Sector
ANATEL has been an important player in Brazil through the 18 years of its operations in the country. A year after its foundation, the agency established the regulations that were the basis for the privatization of the companies, which were formerly part of the Telebrás system. The action was crucial in the following years to prepare the Brazilian telecoms sector to get investments and proper technology to expand.
ANATEL was also important in the regulation of mobile telephones and broadband internet access systems. Some recent examples of their role in regulating these services include the management, along with Telebrás, of the National Broadband Program, also known as PNBL, and the auction of a new spectre for the 4G network. ANATEL is also responsible for regulating the adoption of the IPv6 protocol in Brazil.
In 2014, ANATEL certificated and homologated 5,400 pieces of telecoms equipment and interrupted the operations of 663 non-authorized companies. The agency collected BRL 5.2 billion with the auction of the 700 MHz spectrum for 4G mobile network operators. In the same year, the country registered around 280.7 million subscriptions of mobile services.
ANATEL has established the strategy plan for the 2015-2024 period, covering important challenges faced by the telecommunications sector to be properly regulated in the next decade. Among these themes, the most relevant are listed below:
- Encourage private investment in infrastructure and in the growing data traffic demands
- Reduction of regulatory limitations to free private enterprises
- Set regulations for over-the-top applications, which are already planned to be defined by the end of 2016
- Manage important aspects of cybersecurity
- Reduction of regulatory intervention