"Internet for All" plan advances in Brazil

Government plans to use own satellite to offer connectivity to 57 million digitally excluded citizens.

A plan to address lack of connectivity in remote regions of Brazil will start implementation before the end of the first quarter of 2018.

According to the Brazilian Ministry for Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTI), there are 57 million people currently without Internet access in the country.

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The Internet for All plan will use country's first own satellite to deliver Internet access to the digitally excluded areas. The satellite, launched last May, cost the government around 3 billion reais ($912 million) and more is being spent on maintenance, while most of its capacity is currently underutilized, according to the MCTI.

Under the initiative, the federal government will establish partnerships with the administrations of individual cities to install antennas. As well as individuals, it is expected that hospitals and schools will benefit, though Internet access subsidized by the Health and Education ministries.

Commenting on the plan, Science and Technology minister Gilberto Kassab said the Internet for All plan is the largest social development program introduced by president Michel Temer.

"We now have the possibility of an extraordinary advance in terms of connectivity, across the whole country," Kassab said.

However, the initiative is not something that was Temer's idea. Back in 2014, former president Dilma Rousseff announced her plans for the "Banda Larga Para Todos" (Broadband For All, in Portuguese) program, which also aimed at providing cheaper and faster Internet access to those who don't have it.

In 2015, Rousseff also committed to invest 15 billion reais ($4.5 billion) in the creation and improvement of broadband projects. The resources would be distributed as tax relief across projects submitted by companies as part of a tendering process under a Special Taxation Regime of the previous iteration of the National Broadband Program, a scheme created to stimulate the deployment and expansion of the Brazilian broadband network.

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