A new agreement will see the expansion of Brazil's public Wi-Fi hotspots network to improve public service provision in locations lacking Internet connectivity.
Under the technical cooperation agreements signed between the Banco do Brasil Foundation and the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE) with the Ministry of Communications, some 1,000 locations nationwide will benefit from approximately 500 new Wi-Fi hotspots to be implemented by 2022.
The current free Wi-Fi network with satellite-based Internet consists of over 14,000 hotspots across 3,000 Brazilian municipalities, mostly located in the North and Northeast of Brazil. Some 11,000 schools use the hotspots, as well as 1,000 healthcare facilities and 475 Indigenous communities.
At the event where the partnership was announced on Tuesday (14), Communications minister Fabio Faria noted that 8,5 million citizens benefit from the existing initiatives around addressing the connectivity issue. However, there is "still more to be done" since 40 million citizens still lack access to the Internet.
As well as Internet connectivity, the new agreement includes the provision of online content relating to education and culture, including access to digital art exhibitions.
Banco do Brasil, one of the largest financial services institutions in the country, said the roll-out is an important instrument to accelerate the financial inclusion of communities through digital channels.
"We are getting closer to our future clients, promoting digital inclusion for those who had no access and valuing people's social transformation", said Fausto Ribeiro, president at Banco do Brasil.
The initiative is also seen as a means to boost the digital inclusion of entrepreneurs in remote areas of Brazil. "We are together in this challenge of taking the internet and communications to the most distant places in the country. This is a project that has a lot of synergy with our methodology, which digitally accelerates micro and small businesses", noted SEBRAE's president, Carlos Melles.
According to a report from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, digital exclusion in Brazil is due to factors such as not having the technical knowledge to access the web, as well as the high price of Internet services.
In addition, lack of service availability - particularly in the North of the country, where the Amazon region is located - was also among the reasons given for not using the web.