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The telecommunications dilemma for the World Cup

That the lack of infrastructure in Brazil is chronic and can be seen in all public sector activities, this is nothing new for anyone. We lack roads, ports, airports, schools, basic sanitation and many other works essential to the functioning of the economy and society, in general at minimum levels of efficiency. Among all these deficiencies, the telecommunications infrastructure is coming to the fore due to the World Cup.

The telecommunications dilemma for the World Cup

Running out of time, industry, operators and government are struggling to put in place the infrastructure needed to broadcast upcoming sporting events. Truth be told, fiber optic cabling in Brazil, high capacity cables necessary for the transmission of HD (High Definition) or high definition content, has had an installation deficit for many years, with the implementation of this network largely being up to the Telebrás, reactivated by the Lula government with the mission of improving access to telecommunications from north to south of Brazil.

To paraphrase Jerome Valcke, FIFA general secretary, organizer of the World Cup, “without telecommunications there is no World Cup”. And it is not an exaggeration. All games are broadcast live to the four corners of the world and the telecommunications infrastructure for this to happen without fail must be at least perfect. Aside from the broadcast itself, all fans who come to the stadiums with their smartphones, will share the main moments of the games by sending photos and videos to friends, also spread all over the world. Here is another huge bottleneck, considering the constant failures and blackouts recorded by mobile operators under normal conditions.

In this context, with the exception of some devices in certain European countries that have the same frequency band as that adopted for Brazilian 4G, few will access our 4G network, a fact that will make 3G even more congested. The solution both for fans who own the 4G device (American standard), and for those who do not, will be to buy a Brazilian device.

In order to encourage private initiative through telecommunications operators in general to invest in infrastructure, last year the Federal Government created the Special Taxation Regime of the National Broadband Program. With this program, concessionaires in the telecommunications sector will be able to write projects and submit them to the Ministry of Communications for approval. The approved projects will be exempt from IPI, PIS and Cofins for the acquisition of new machines, devices, instruments and equipment.

Another exemption studied by the Federal Government would be that of Fistel, the Universal Telecommunications Fund, which collects an impressive figure of R $ 5 billion per year from large operators. Such an exemption needs to be ratified by the Ministry of Finance, which in times of “lean cows” has been conservative regarding this type of tax waiver. With all these incentives, we hope that the legacy left by the World Cup in terms of telecommunications will serve to boost the sector’s infrastructure scenario. I say push because the great deficiency is not only in the capitals that will host the games, but, above all, in the midwest, north and northeast regions, now under development. According to studies by the federal government, to actually change the Brazilian reality, an investment of 120 billion reais would be necessary. Somewhat distant reality.

Dane Avanzi, is a telecommunications entrepreneur, lawyer, Superintendent of the Avanzi Institute and Legal Director of Aerbras.

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