Our firm specializes in regulatory affairs and other matters related to the digital economy.
Presentation made by the attorneys Iris Bennett, Partner of the US Law Firm Smith Pachter McWhorter PLC, and her associate Paulo Gusmão, together with André de Almeida and Leonardo B. Leite, partners of Almeida Advogados.
The telecommunications industry has advanced significantly over the past two decades. Although telecommunications services date back to the nineteenth century, they only developed technologically and expanded throughout Brazil in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Two factors contributed to this slow development, specifically, an ineffective business model and financing difficulties. In the early 1990’s, the entire telecommunications structure was reviewed, including its government control.
The General Telecommunications Law of 1997 was one of the first steps taken to modernize and expand the industry by creating a national independent regulatory agency. This step was pivotal to development because it changed a previously monopoly-based structure into one based on competition.
One proposal for such development was to establish competitive procedures, backed by rules governing market operations in order to ensure economically feasible private market-based investment decisions.
As rule-based challenges to the sector have been overcome, most objectives are now in place. According to the National Telecommunications Agency (“ANATEL”), the number of fixed telephone numbers increased from 16.5 million in 1996 to 47.8 million in 2001. In addition, there were 28.7 million cell phone users in 2001, a teledensity of seventeen accesses per hundred inhabitants and significantly higher than the 1.7 per hundred inhabitants in 1996.
Over ten years since the Telecommunications Law’s enactment, ANATEL recently published a proposed “General Plan for Amendments to Telecommunication Regulation in Brazil – PGR”, which presents measures that the Agency seeks to implement in the coming years.
The document’s purpose is to describe ANATEL’s proposed measures to update telecommunications activities in Brazil, including still-unregulated activities, such as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO’s).
Based on that initiative, ANATEL seeks to create a favorable environment for attracting and strengthening new small- and medium-sized service providers. Examples include promoting a competitive model for using shared networks and multiple access, and providing incentives for competition by adopting different regulatory rules between groups with and without a significant market presence.
This new regulation favors opportunities and strengthens related businesses. Logically, market participants seek proper legal services for their activities.
Almeida Advogados regularly advises on regulatory matters for internet, subscription TV, MVNO, fixed and mobile telephony, among other types of communications. Our firm stands ready to assist clients doing business in the rapidly-growing digital economy.