Internet projects avoid Brazil budget cuts

Digital inclusion plan and development of the country's satellite have been spared
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Large communications projects such as the development of Brazil's broadband infrastructure and the construction of the country's own satellite have been spared from the R$69.9bn ($22.3bn) budget cut announced by the Brazilian government last Friday.

There has been a reduction of R$317.000 ($101.383) in the Communications budget for 2015, previously expected to be R$1.3bn ($415.767). This will mean cutbacks in projects such as Cidades Digitais (Digital Cities), a plan created in 2012 to equip cities with up to 50.000 citizens with resources to promote digital inclusion and improve the provision of public services.

Even though the government has put on hold any immediate investments in the National Broadband Plan, the project will continue to get funding later in the year.

"We discussed [the budget cuts] at length with each ministry. I can say that in the case of Communications, the satellite project as well as the launch and expansion of the National Broadband Plan, which will start in the second half of the year, have been preserved even with the contingency plans," Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa said, when announcing the cuts.

Within the projects that will continue to get funding, it is also expected that the undersea link between Brazil and Europe - which made progress in the aftermath of the revelations of NSA spying on Brazil - will get the R$36m ($11.5m) needed to seal the partnership with Spanish telco IslaLink.

It is not yet certain whether Brazil's digital inclusion plans will be a revamp of the National Broadband Plan, which was launched by previous president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or if Dilma Rousseff's Banda Larga para Todos (Broadband for All), an initiative with more emphasis on public-private partnerships, will become a reality.

Earlier this year, the new Communications minister of president Dilma Rousseff's second term, Ricardo Berzoini, said that his team was working on a new plan to deliver quality broadband to the maximum amount of citizens at a lower cost and faster speeds. This would be done by allowing companies to "invest larger sums of money and get medium and long-term paybacks."

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