Brazilian federal court upholds Anatel’s mobile phone sale ban

24 Jul 2012

Dow Jones Newswires reports that a Brazilian federal judge yesterday upheld a ban imposed by the national telecoms regulator Anatel, preventing three leading cellcos from selling new mobile phones until they improve their quality of service (QoS) in a number of states across the country.

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last week Anatel ordered TIM Brasil, Oi SA and Telecom Americas (Claro) to stop selling new cellphone plans in certain states, in response to a rising tide of customer complaints over poor service quality, including dropped calls and patchy coverage. The regulator announced that, in each of the country’s 26 states and the federal district Brasilia, the cellco with the worst service record would be barred from selling new mobile plans. The edict, it said, will remain in place until such time as the carrier concerned presents investment plans designed to rectify the problem. ‘A growing client base needs to be accompanied by more investments,’ Anatel head Joao Batista de Resende told reporters, adding that it has been tracking an increase in customer service complaints for more than a year.

Following the ruling, Telecom Italia’s TIM Brasil unit has been barred from selling plans in 19 states; Oi SA has been prohibited from signing up new users in five; and Telecom Americas (Claro) has been served a desist order in three states. Only Vivo, the Brazilian asset of Telefonica of Spain, will not face immediate sanctions, but it must present plans to the watchdog or face a similar fate. Brazil’s consumer protection agency Procon also ordered the country’s four largest mobile operators to stop selling any more new mobile SIMs in the southern Rio Grande do Sul state capital Porto Alegre, amid concerns over poor service quality. It is understood that any carrier that flouts Anatel’s order will face a fine of BRL200,000 (USD99,000) per day.