Latin American telco Oi already sees results from its plan to leverage the telco's fiber investment for both FTTH and later-generation mobile services.
The timing also takes advantage of Brazil's recent spotlight on the world stage. International sporting events helped infuse investment (and regulatory reform) in Brazil's broadband infrastructure: First came the
FIFA World Cup in 2014, followed two years later by the Olympic Games. Prior to each event and the non-stop global coverage they entailed, Brazil's broadband infrastructures were updated with the latest technologies in order to support the millions of new -- albeit temporary -- users in the host cities.
While some mobile technologies (such as COWS) were removed, fixed-broadband investments remained in cities such as Sao Paolo, Brasilia and Fortaleza. Brazil also became more tightly integrated with the rest of the world when Angola Cables completed the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), which served commercial traffic such as ISPs, telco operators, cloud service providers and over-the-top (OTT) content providers sending data between Angola and Brazil. (See Angola Cables: Surfing the Waves of Disruption.)
In September, Facebook and telecom infrastructure company GlobeNet began constructing Malbec (named after the Argentinian wine), a 2,500-km submarine cable that will connect Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It results in connectivity between South America and the United States, and once finished by an anticipated date of mid-2020, it will be the first new submarine cable route to reach the Argentine coastline since 2001.
Brazil's broadband picture
Brazil has one of the largest broadband markets in Latin America; however, broadband penetration is only slightly higher than the region's average, lagging behind Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, according to BuddeComm.
This year, the government approved an additional $15.1 billion for the National Broadband Plan, while Oi itself said it would invest R$24 billion through to 2019 in LTE and fiber infrastructure. Competitors, such as Net Servicos, expanded their offerings: Net Servicos launched a 500 Mbit/s residential service, while others expanded into fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP), Budde reported.
Brazil by Numbers
Although less than three-quarters of the population used the Internet in 2017, by 2022 88% of Brazilians will be connected, according to Cisco's recently published Visual Networking Index. In that time, average speeds will more than double, reaching 29Mbit/s, compared with 13.2Mbit/s last year, VNI said. Simultaneously, traffic will more than double, hitting 27.1Gbits in 2022 versus 12.8Gbits in 2017, the research found.
Putting Oi's plan into action
Oi, on December 5 signed a long-term technology partnership with Nokia designed to help Brazil's first quad player meet growing need for residential fiber-based connectivity and more mobile coverage, while simultaneously preparing for the arrival of 5G.
Oi hopes its partnership with Nokia helps attain these speeds. The leading Brazilian provider plans to expand its fiber rollout, replacing copper and DSL-based services, to reach up to 10 million homes by 2021. It also will tap Nokia for optical transport and IP access network expansion for up to 10 terabits per second capacity throughput using dense wave division multiplexing optical transport and IP routing technology, according to Nokia. This optical transport network will be the FTTH network's backbone.
"We ended the month of September with presence in 19 cities offering FTTH and with 720,000 homes passed, of which approximately 52,000 connected -- though it's too small when compared to our just over 5 million per diem customers," said Carlos Augusto Machado Pereira de Almeida Brandão, Oi chief financial officer and board member, during the telco provider's most recent earnings call, according to a Yahoo Finance transcript. "The fiber customer base grew more than 100% over the first quarter of this year, demonstrating the potential of this product… In October, we sold almost twice the monthly average FTTH net sales of the third quarter. Although the absolute numbers are not yet that significant, this result shows the structures of the deployment model guided by demand."
Mobile demand also is on an upward trajectory. To support this movement, the operator will leverage Nokia AirScale radio access network (RAN), plus the additional fiber for back-haul. Initially used to help with earlier iterations, such as 2G and 3G, as Oi phases out these lower-range services the provider will use AirScale for 4G and 5G, it said.
Looking to reduce cost and enhance customer service, Oi also is turning to automation, analytics and artificial intelligence, relying on Nokia AVA cognitive services platform, the vendor said.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.