Residential Internet Connections in Brazil

Over the last few years, residential broadband connections in Brazil have experienced a notable rise in adoption rates. In this article we will detail the usage of internet connections in Brazilian households.

Expansion of Internet Connections in Brazil

Due to factors such as the reduction in prices for broadband subscriptions and the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure, internet connections have expanded significantly in Brazil in recent years. Data from November 2017 by IPEA, the Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada, indicates that there are over 39 million active internet subscriptions in Brazilian households, while back in 2011 only 14 million broadband connections were found in the country.

The National Broadband Programme, a Federal Government initiative, which started in 2010 with the goals of expanding the telecommunications infrastructure of the country and reducing the prices of these services, can be partly credited to the growth in adoption of internet connections in Brazil.

Among its results, the government programme launched high quality internet subscriptions with speeds of 2 Mbps at a monthly price of BRL 39.90, which contributed to the overall reduction in prices of broadband plans. It also introduced internet connections to many regions of the country that were previously devoid of reliable broadband services, including hard to reach areas in the North and Northeast states of Brazil.

There is still, however, a significant number of households not connected with broadband services yet. Data from a study conducted by Anatel between 2016 and 2017 shows that there is an unmet internet access demand in Brazilian of 11.6 million households. The main reasons underlined by the study were lack of service in many of the areas across the country and prices charged to the users.

For the market of residential connections, perhaps the most relevant cause for the increase in adoption of broadband subscriptions has been the rise of the Brazilian population’s purchasing power, especially in the case of the lower social classes. In recent years the country has experienced substantial growth in the sales of affordable internet connected devices such as smartphones and tablets, which have pushed the increase in subscriptions of residential broadband connections.

Broadband Adoption in Brazilian Households

The recently released TIC Domicílios 2016 research from, the Brazilian Centre of Studies of Information and Communication Technologies, presents detailed information regarding the adoption of residential broadband connections in Brazil. The report is based on extensive surveys from users of all regions and social classes in the country, as a way to present realistic data regarding the current status of the residential broadband connections market.

According to the research, 54% of Brazilian households have internet connections, an astonishing increase compared to figures from the 2010 survey, when it was discovered that only 27% of Brazilian households had internet connections. This number reflects the quick development and high adoption rate of broadband connections experienced by Brazil over the last four years.

Rural areas still present a dire scenario, where only 26% of the households have internet connection. In these areas, due to the lack of wired networks infrastructure, wireless technologies display higher adoption than what is found in urban households. Mobile network modems are used by 37% of connected households in rural areas, while radio transmissions are used by 18% and satellite connections are used by 12%. As far as connection speed goes, households in the rural and city areas have roughly the same average speed, with the majority of connections ranging between 1 and 20 Mbps.

In urban areas, broadband connections are found in 59% of households. The most used broadband technologies in these areas is the fibre connections and cable modem, which is present in 30% of connected households. Interestingly, mobile network modems are used in 25% of connected households in urban areas.

Devices Used to Connect to the Internet

Survey results indicate that the usage of computers is experiencing a steady decrease in Brazil, while smartphones are the devices most used to get online. From 2014 to 2016, the participation of usage of computers in households decreased from 80% to 57%, while smartphones jumped from 76% to 93%. WiFi is the type of connection most used by the surveyed participants on smartphones, adopted by 86% participants. About 70% use mobile networks, especially 3G or 4G connections.

Desktops are present in 52% of connected households to access the internet, while portable computers are used in 63%, and tablets are used in 38%. Other types of devices used for internet connections include TV sets, used in 17% of households, and video game consoles, used in 8% of households.

Wireless Connectivity

Around 20% of connected households in Brazil do not have wireless connectivity, which might be a hindrance to the usage of mobile devices to connect to the internet for users without data plans. The lack of wireless connectivity is even more noticeable in the rural areas, where only 59% of the households reported the use of WiFi equipment.

Shared Access

Another noteworthy aspect of the survey is that 18% of broadband connection subscribers claim to share their internet access with neighbouring households. This is a habit most common for users in the Northeast region, where 28% of connected households have shared broadband connections. Although it might seem that this practice would be reserved for the lower social class broadband subscribers, the survey indicates that at least 10% of high income households in Brazil share their internet access with neighbours.

Households Without Broadband Connections

The TIC Domicílios research also includes survey results regarding households without broadband connections, and the most common reasons for not contracting a broadband service. These reasons are:

  • High cost: 57%
  • Absence of computers: 44%
  • Lack of interest 49%
  • No need for connections: 45%
  • Lack of skills to use internet: 39%
  • Absence of service provider in the region: 27%
  • Ability to use the internet in other places: 30%
  • Concern with safety and privacy: 40%
  • Concern with dangerous content: 37%

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