In October 2014 Ovum released its Broadband Development Index (BDI), a service that tracks the take-up of high-speed fixed and mobile broadband services in 191 countries. The BDI considers the penetration levels of fixed and mobile broadband; countries with faster networks such as FTTx, DOCSIS 3.0, VDSL, and LTE achieve higher scores. It also incorporates Ovum’s forecasts for the next five years. The index is a tool to analyze the speed of adoption of high-speed broadband in the present and to estimate future developments.
Latin America as a whole and Brazil in particular have not performed particularly well. Among the BDI’s eight global sub-regions, Latin America ranks fifth; Brazil ranks 67th of the index’s 191 countries.
Brazil has an intermediate position in the BDI
Brazil is expected to be the only BRICS country to fall in the global rankings by 2019, dropping from 67th to 69th. Russia will have a moderate improvement, climbing nine positions, and South Africa, China, and India will have better ranking improvements, rising 24, 25, and 32 positions respectively. High GDP growth and fast deployment of mobile broadband infrastructure are expected to be the main drivers of the development of broadband in the BRICS.
The regional leader in Latin America is Uruguay, thanks to an aggressive fiber deployment. Brazil ranks only 12th, behind Chile, Mexico, and Argentina (among others).
The challenge for Brazil is how to update and expand the broadband infrastructure in such a vast country. WCDMA will be the leading technology in mobile broadband during the coming years; LTE still has a long way to go in terms of expanding coverage and reducing handset costs before it reaches the scale of 3G. The challenge in fixed broadband is twofold: first to develop the infrastructure outside the largest urban areas, and second to upgrade existing networks to support faster connections. The situation is highlighted by the distribution of fixed broadband subscriptions by speed. According to Anatel, only 13% of connections in Brazil are of 12Mbps or higher, and most of these are located in the Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro metropolitan areas.
All in all, the BDI shows that Brazil is in an intermediate position in the global broadband rankings. The country is behind some of its neighbors and, despite being ahead of South Africa and India among the BRICS, it shows no sign of improving its position in the rankings. This does not mean that fixed and mobile broadband in Brazil will not evolve, but its development will be slower than in other parts of the world.
Broadband Development Index, PT0042-000001 (October 2014)
Ari Lopes, Principal Analyst, LATAM