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Digital Convergence: How Will Mobile Operators Billing?

Digital convergence? The Internet Civil Framework, approved last year and still in the production of a complementary standard, has been put to the test by the mobile industry with bold promotions – such as the one launched by Claro in April, where it granted free access to Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, as long as the customer had a prepaid or postpaid data plan of any value.

Such a promotion perfectly suited to the principle of neutrality, upheld by the Marco Civil da Internet, brings advantages to the consumer without distinguishing the content that is being made available, as provided by the Law. Another important decision by the State Court of Mato Grosso, imposed on Oi e Vivo, was the ban on blocking data plan consumers once the franchise acquired was exhausted.

Thus, the practice of blocking began to occur as soon as it was defined by the Marco Civil da Internet that operators could not charge per type of content. Before, only the speed was reduced, but the consumer continued to navigate. The only alternative not to be blocked, except for consumers in Mato Grosso (now in question), is the purchase of more expensive data packages.

What can be abstracted from this scenario of the Brazilian mobile market? Firstly, the unusual love-hate relationship between mobile operators and OTT’s (Over the Top), which run on mobile applications with internet access, the main ones being WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, among others. , which while stealing billionaires from phone operators around the world, captivates consumers by keeping them from their smartphones. That’s right, today the cell phone is even for calling!

Another fact that can be seen is the way the telephone operators deal with this phenomenon, combining the trend or trying to manage the situation with the aim of preserving their revenues. This is a relevant point for the quality of mobile telephony, which requires major investments, either in maintaining the current system, or in constantly expanding the network and updating technologies.

Today, more than half of Brazil’s Radio Base Stations (ERB) are either 2G or 3G – although much in advertising there is talk of 4G, which in practice exists only in large cities. With the Internet of Things to come, the network promises to grow at an exponential rate. How will telecommunication companies fund these networks in a resource scarcity scenario?

Aware of these demands, Telefonica Global CIO Phil Jordan recently stated that mobile companies need to “move” now so they don’t lose more revenue. And he is absolutely right. Anyone who has used Skype or WhatsApp for international calls from their smartphone abroad, saving a lot of money on rates, knows well what I am talking about.

Dane Avanzi is a businessman, lawyer and vice president of Aerbras – Association of Radiocommunication Companies of Brazil.

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