Brazil’s minister of communications Paulo Bernardo yesterday kicked off the first practical field test of 450MHz based services at the Rural Marumbi school in Morretes, as part of the country’s ambitious programme to develop rural internet access. The minister completed a voice call with his chief of staff in Brasilia, with initial reports suggesting the connection speed reached 500kbps – roughly ten times better than a dial-up line. Also present at the trial were the president of Anatel, John Rao, and his counterpart at Brazilian telco Telemar Norte Leste (Oi), Francisco Valim.
In May this year Anatel intends to launch the auction of frequencies in the 450MHz band for the provision of telephony and internet services in rural areas. According to the watchdog’s findings there are some 30 million Brazilians living in more remote parts of the country – equivalent to around eight million households – but only 6% are online. The government hopes to boost this level to 44% (household) penetration within five years, Bernardo said. Francisco Valim went on to point out that Oi has already installed more than 20,000 towers covering rural areas and is now participating in the 450MHz trials which ‘could be interesting [to boost] this coverage.’