As 4G networks are rolled out in major cities in Brazil, telecommunications body Anatel has given a green light for the implementation of 3G networks in 206 small towns across the country where the services are still inexistent.
All municipalities have a population of 30,000 people or less, mainly in the states of Pará, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso e Santa Catarina. By 2015, five locations should have 3G networks: Mujuí dos Campos (Pará), Pinto Bandeira (Rio Grande do Sul), Paraíso das Águas (Mato Grosso), Pescaria Brava and Balneário Rincão (Santa Catarina).
The remaining 201 locations should be covered by 2019. Vivo, Brazil's largest telco, will be carrying out the work.
The reason these cities still don't have 3G services available at a time 4G LTE networks are being rolled out across the country is purely financial: the places are not attractive to the operators as the low demand would not justify the investment needed. Still, Vivo will need to make an investment of about R$480mi ($215mi) in the project.
Even though six years seems like a very long time to the casual observer (as well as the people living on those locations), Anatel says that the timescales are appropriate and are intended to make the operation more commercially viable for the telcos.
Meanwhile, recent episodes around 3G 'blackouts' continue to highlight the problems of the existing set-up in larger cities across Brazil.