|Issue:||Latin America III 1998|
|Topic:||Time to Participate|
|Author:||Vander Luiz Stephanin|
|Organisation:||Association of Companies and, Professionals of Telecommunications, Brazil|
Brazil is living today in the most important time of the telecoms restructuring process. It’s market is without a doubt one of the biggest in the world. There is an enormous responsibility on all stakeholders in the industry to contribute towards this development, in which there is very little time to adapt. Companies and the labour force have to be prepared to face the challenges of this new reality. In this context, ABERIMEST’s role is to help develop partnerships in training areas and encourage participation to enable the country to be placed amongst the most developed countries in telecommunications.
The Brazilian telecommunications sector is expected to experience tremendous growth in the next five years. For some, this expectation is more of a dream than an achievable vision. Research Indications Recent Brazilian research on telephone services shows encouraging signs of the potential of a huge market marked by a lack of large and real investments. According to Minicom and Telebras’ research, the telecommunications market foresees for this year, a growth of 3.1 million mobile cellular numbers versus the total of 6 millions subscribers reached in 1997, totalling 9.1 million operating lines. For 1999 it will be 12 million. But the great jump will be in 2003, when Brazil will reach 23 million commercial operating lines. There will also be a boom in the conventional operation: more than 40 million terminals will be installed in 2003. In 1997, there were 19.5 million, and it is expected to reach 22.7 million and 26 million in 1998 and 1999 respectively. In the message forwarding service, the expectation for 2003 is 18.5 million subscribers, almost three times the estimated total of 6.35 millions, for 1999. Last year there were 2.8 million, and 4.4 million is the figure estimated for 1998. The paging service, with 700,000 operating subscriptions in 1997, will reach 1.6 million this year, and 2.5 million in 1999. In the public network, 1.8 million installed operating subscriptions is estimated for 2003, practically three times the existing 600,000 of the previous year. In 1998, there will be 710,000 subscriptions, with 870,000 projected for 1999. The operators have been increasing the installations of paid call units, which substitutes the use of coins in telecommunications equipment. Customer Focus Brazil is living today in the most important time of the telecommunications restructuring process. It is a real cultural revolution already experienced by first world countries. Businesses are increasingly moving ahead with growing communication needs. The country is starved of communication services and for this reason, it requires an increased efficiency of services. On the other hand, the operators try to satisfy these market needs through providing better customer service and care. The Telecommunication General Law puts the customer at the centre of the attention within a competition environment for service providers. This will hopefully lead to better products and services for the customers (be they businesses or individuals). Strong Signal Recently, the President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, said to the national media: “within the present Brazilian aspirations, telecommunications represents the most important area “. Regarding the modernisation he added: “it doesn’t mean only the availability of emerging technologies, but the use of such resources in order to give to the population technological progress. Modernisation must mean the availability of high technology and its use for the people.” The President’s message, together with the projects already approved by Minicom and implemented by Telebras, send a strong signal to foreign and Brazilian companies who have already invested, or are planning to invest. Despite the global economic crisis, nothing will change the political will of the government to liberalise its markets as this is considered the way forward to have a sustainable economic development and growth for the future. Results to date The results to date are highly impressive. Telebras System, the holding company of all the public operators in Brazil, presented in the first four months of this year, a net profit of more than US$1.1 billion against that of US$960 million in 1997. This represents around a 16.5% increase in a period when the international economy is experiencing negative or zero growth. The Brazilian market is without a doubt one of the biggest in the world. Demand for telecommunication services will get stronger, once the most potent players in the world invest in the sector as a result of its recent privatisation. Training Development We will witness in the next five years, development levels in telecommunications never seen before in the country. One such example is in the tremendous demand on universities, class associations and the government to introduce immediately, specific courses in the telecommunication area. There is an urgent need to improve the technical and intellectual knowledge of the labour force. There is also the necessity to prepare the companies and the labour force to face the challenges of this new reality. It will be a time of tough competition, in search of higher quality and increased efficiency to attend to the needs of the telecommunications operators and service providers. In this context, the Brazilian Association of Companies and Professionals of Telecommunications (ABERIMEST) has developed partnerships in training areas, to upgrade the employees by offering specific courses. As a telecommunications professional with 30 years experience, I feel proud to be part of this moment that we are passing through. However, it must be said that there is an enormous responsibility on all of us to contribute towards this progress, in which we have very little time to adapt. The arrival of the government’s regulation regarding digital trunking frequencies, has enabled companies to settle in Brazil. Companies like NEXTEL and METROPHONE (MCOMCAST), have started to provide services. Breaking the monopoly also brought companies to operate the B Band, and we have developed the same kind of services, increasing our specialist team in radio frequency (RF), microwaves and site hunters. Conclusion I believe that the optimism shared by many quarters in Brazil, is a justifiable one, backed up with evidence. Brazil is certainly heading towards the right direction in terms of its efforts in privatising its telecommunications sector to create a competitive environment, provide better products and services, and offer more choices for its people. This will hopefully enable the country to be placed amongst the most developed countries in telecommunications.