Home Latin America 2004 Universal connectivity – Digital inclusion and development in Brazil

Universal connectivity – Digital inclusion and development in Brazil

by david.nunes
Pedro Jaime Ziller de AraújoIssue:Latin America 2004
Article no.:2
Topic:Universal connectivity – Digital inclusion and development in Brazil
Author:Pedro Jaime Ziller de Araújo
Organisation:ANATEL, Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações, Brazil
PDF size:128KB

About author

Pedro Jaime Ziller de Araújo is the President of ANATEL, Brazil’s telecommunications regulatory agency. Before assuming the presidency of ANATEL, Mr Ziller served as the Secretary of Telecommunications at Brazil’s Ministry of Communications. In his long career in Brazil’s telecommunications system, Mr Ziller served in a wide variety of executive positions at Telebrás, Telemar, Telemig, and Telesp. Mr Ziller began his career at CTB, Companhia Telefônica Brasileira. Mr Ziller graduated from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), with a degree in electrical engineering, and from the Information Technology University Extension at PUC in Rio de Janeiro. Mr Ziller later studied at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG in Belo Horizonte.

Article abstract

Pervasive connectivity and digital inclusion are fundamental to insert Brazil into the global information society. Brazil’s telecommunications regulatory agency, Anatel, is launching SCD, a digital broadband service. Funds set aside for the universalisation of telecommunications services will pay for part of the SCD implementation. Partnerships between the government and private enterprise will pay for another part. This arrangement benefits government programmes, helps operating companies provide service in marginal markets and will advance the economic and social interests of these regions.

Full Article

In today’s world, it is essential to a country’s development, and that of its citizens, to overcome the challenges presented by digital inclusion and, in this way, further social inclusion. To implement digital inclusion, to make it happen, a complete solution – involving computers, broadband digital services, access to the Internet and content development – is necessary. Urban and rural areas have different needs and require different solutions for broadband digital services. In cities and in most urbanised areas throughout the world, one can ordinarily find a variety of ways to access the Internet. In cities, access to the Internet via broadband technology such as cable, using the same infrastructure as cable TV or ADSL, which uses existing telephone lines, is growing rapidly, stimulated by the decentralisation and in some areas, unbundling, of the access networks. Nevertheless, access to the Internet using dial up telephone connections is still significant and in some regions, growing. In rural areas, access to the Internet via satellite links or wireless connections is common due to the lack of a wired communications infrastructure to carry the signal. In Brazil, the use of cost free Internet Service Provider (ISP) accounts is common and growing. The cost of broadband access has been going down due to the introduction of new technology and the growing competition. Nevertheless, there is considerable difficulty and cost involved in building broadband access in remote areas. In these regions, there is a real need for government investment, especially those in partnership with private enterprise to reduce the impact upon the government’s budget. Public, government, investment can be made by using Telecommunications Funds; such usage must first be thoroughly and effectively regulated by the appropriate regulatory agencies. In any country, the major broadband universalisation projects should initially be aimed at serving the country’s need in the areas of education, health, public safety and security. These are the areas of great interest to the government. Due to its clear synergy with government projects, partnerships between the government and private enterprise for broadband universalisation in these areas would naturally be of great interest. By bringing broadband service to rural areas, the government would meet the needs of its social programmes. The privately owned telecommunications companies, after installing the broadband systems in partnership with the government, would subsequently be free to provide commercial services to meet the needs of the surrounding region. The government – private enterprise partnerships make good sense for both. The government would further its projects more efficiently, by taking advantage of the skills of the operating companies and at lower cost. The operating companies would benefit through government incentives and investment, in some cases through FUST, and by operating the services the government uses. All of these factors would tend to reduce the operating companies’ costs and risks and make it possible for them to offer services in commercially marginal regions. The government’s telecommunications funds could be used to pay for computers, the installation of broadband access, the monthly usage fees for services, Internet access for schools, for public health posts or for police stations, during a pre-determined period that is economically viable for both the government and the company. The telecommunications companies would install the entire infrastructure and handle the operation and maintenance of the systems. The regulatory agency would have to be closely involved in those aspects of the programme linked to universal access for the population, since this is an essential element, a tool, for the development of the country and its citizens. One of the biggest bottlenecks affecting many of the government’s plans, not to mention the impact upon regional and local development, is the operating companies’ control of the market, the services offered and prices. When the control of a local market is concentrated in the hands of a single telecommunications service provider, or group, that monopolises the offer of broadband services, the regulatory agency has a duty to take strong measures. Such measures are needed to ensure that these services are offered at reasonable prices throughout the service concession area, not merely in the easier to serve, higher margin, urban areas. A regulatory agency can stimulate universal access to services such as broadband by promulgating transparent regulations concerning the telecommunications service providers’ conduct with regard to interconnection, unbundling, interconnection between networks, the conditions for interconnection and services for and Internet service providers (ISPs) and the like. Other important functions of regulation are to define the technologies to be used, to stimulate the development of the industrial sector, encourage research and development and promote the building of an infrastructure for broadband digital services in both rural and urban areas. To these ends, regulation of the conventional telephone network, ISDN, VPN, VSAT/satellites, third and fourth generation (3G and 4G) cellular, cable broadband , ADSL, WLL, WiFi, WiMax, cable TV, PLC (power line communications), MMDSD (Multi-channel Multi-point Distribution System Data), Wireless 400-490Mhz or 2500-2690Mhz, and so forth. Brazil’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, Anatel, is now regulating a new digital broadband service called SCD, the initials in Portuguese for Digital Communications Service. This service is aimed, primarily, at meeting the needs of remote areas for digital connectivity and is intended to promote the digital inclusion of Brazil’s population. This new Digital Communications Service, SCD, will be implemented using funds from FUST – Brazil’s Fund for the Universalisation of Telecommunications Services. FUST, established by Act Nr. 9,998 of August 17, 2000, is funded by a mandatory monthly contribution of one per cent of the fixed telephony operating companies’ gross revenues and, as well, part of the money Anatel, the National Telecommunications Agency, receives for its authorisation or concession of public services. FUST collects roughly US$200 million per year and has already accumulated some US$ 835 million. Its purpose is to provide resources to cover costs of achieving the sector’s universalisation obligations, which cannot otherwise be recovered by the commercial exploitation of the service. The proceeds are for use in programmes, projects or activities that involve the universalisation of telecommunication services of a social nature and in the public interest. The priorities for the use of these funds are education, health, and public security. To establish a public digital broadband service, Anatel, following the recommendations of the TCU (the Brazilian federal court charged with the responsibility supervising government expenditures), held Public Hearings nº 480 in November of 2003, thereby beginning the process of regulating the SCD, the new Digital Communications Service. Now, based upon its analysis of the public hearing’s results, Anatel is preparing the regulations taking into consideration that the SCD would have the following characteristics: broadband; code-based access; mobility; portability; interconnection with other services; the ability to search for and provide information; and the ability to support work groups. In addition, the regulations will divide the provision of services in remote areas to facilitate the market entry of a wide variety of providers of the new service. The regulations will also cover such topics as quality of service (QoS), interconnection, unbundling, new technologies, mobility and portability. The regulations will also define the use of computers as part of the service, local access, tariffs and access to the Internet, since FUST will remunerate these items in accordance with the definitions of the law that created the fund and the decisions and interpretations of the court, the TCU. It is currently expected, that the SCD will begin to operate by mid-2005. Anatel is promoting the use of free software and the development of special content by research and development groups, universities and commercial suppliers. Anatel believes that free software and local content are important tools, essential for the full implementation of the Brazilian Government’s programmes to promote local and regional digital and social inclusion. Anatel and the Government of President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, expect that by regulating the new SCD services, by encouraging the development of local content, by implementing (interactive) digital TV and the installation of community Telecentres, they will have set the stage for a great leap forward in terms of digital and social inclusion in Brazil. Pervasive connectivity and digital inclusion are Brazil’s tools for development, for the insertion of the country and its citizens in the global information society.

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