Brazil looks to Europe to make Internet connections faster, cheaper

Global Business

Brazil was stepping up efforts to boost internet connectivity while lowering costs. This is part of a national strategy that included plans to lay an underwater fiber optic cable to Europe. CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reported from San Paulo.

Internet use in Brazil is growing at a fast pace. According to a 2013 study, the country surpassed 25 million broadband connections and an estimated 35 million connections by 2016. That internet traffic has strained telecom infrastructure.

Brazil is linked to North America by four cables. The data to go through the U.S. as the single line to Europe has limited capacity and can only carry voice. The country’s priority is to bypass the U.S. entirely and to build a second cable from Brazil to Portugal with high data capacity, at a cost of $185 million.

“If you take a look at our national IT infrastructure, particularly our backbone, Brazil is isolated from the rest of the world,” Marcelo Zuffo, professor  at the University of San Paulo, said. “We have many strands with the U.S. and Canada but no connections with Africa or Europe, so it’s very relevant as a national strategy to establish connections with these two continents where in recent years trade is increasing a lot.”

The Brazilian government wanted to increase its connectivity to the world, but analysts said there was also an important political element: that Brazil wanted to strengthen the security of its communication and reduce its reliance on the U.S. for its flow of data.

Information security became an issue in Brazil after former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden revealed the country was among the most spied on by the NSA. The leak damaged U.S. relations with Brazil, and was one reason why a connection with Europe was prioritized.

“We are increasing our relationship with Europe and this new cable in fact is necessary to us, to give us a second alternative,” Agostino Pacalicchio, an economics professor from Mackenzie University, said. “From our point of view, it’s important to us.”

The cost of sending and receiving data is also important. Brazilian internet users said a priority was faster connectivity at lower prices.

Peter Micek on fiber optic networks

For more on an in-depth look at fiber optic networks, CCTV America interviewed Peter Micek, the senior policy counsel at Access.