Brazilian president backing new law to ‘universalise’ broadband access

11 Sep 2014

BNAmericas writes that, ahead of her bid to seek re-election in the country next month, Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff has publicly backed the idea of a new bill to ensure that universal broadband access is mandatory in the country. Rather than trying to ensure universalisation of high speed services by the issuing of a decree – as called for by the consumer protection and civil society groups gathered under the banner Banda Larga e um Direito Seu! (Broadband Is Your Right) – the president favours adopting a new law, to avoid legal challenges to the plan. Speaking at an event in Sao Paulo promoted by the campaign group, Ms Rousseff said that after listening to the claims and arguments of proponents of the broadband regime change, she takes a different position. ‘I’m in favour of ensuring broadband universalisation, though not do it via a presidential decree, but via a law, that defines clear broadband goals and sets speeds, capacity and deadlines approved in the congress,’ she said. However, the members of Banda Larga e um Direito Seu! Argue that by declaring broadband a ‘public regime service’, it would become subject to universalisation goals under article 18 of the country’s general telecommunications law (LGT), approved in 1997, as well as coverage regulation and charging/billing limitations, in the same way fixed telephony currently is. However, despite the lobby groups concerns that passing a bill would take too long to realise, Ms Rouseff appears to have dismissed their arguments and estimates that with a universalisation law in place, it would be possible to expand broadband to 80% of the country’s territory in four years.