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Brazilians protest against fixed broadband data cap

Consumers will have to pay more for bigger allowances while service speed and stability remain poor.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Brazilian Internet users are up in arms as service providers get ready to introduce data caps to fixed broadband plans.

Supported by upcoming regulatory changes for the telecom industry, operators Vivo, GVT, Oi, NET and Claro will be looking to bring the same model employed for mobile Internet to fixed broadband services, whereby providers will be able to limit the amount of data that can be used monthly and throttle the connection or block it once the cap has been reached.

Consumer rights association Proteste has been campaigning against the providers' intentions on the grounds that any such decision goes against the country's Internet governance rules Marco Civil da Internet, where operators can only block Internet access if a user fails to pay for it.

According to the association, operators are looking to take advantage of a regulatory loophole to enforce the change - forcing consumers to pay more for bigger allowances, even though connection stability and speed remain poor - and Anatel, the Brazilian telecommunications body, should prevent this.

Average Internet speed in Brazil lags behind the rest of the world. Since late 2014, providers have been forced by Anatel to deliver 80 percent of the average broadband speed contracted by customers.

The intention was to stop companies from arbitrarily reducing speeds of residential and business broadband contracts and delivering about 10 percent of what had been promised on contract.

But the reality is that levels of quality of service and general customer satisfaction related to fixed broadband provision in Brazil have gone down consistently.

Brazilian users have set up a petition on Avaaz against the decision to introduce data caps to fixed bandwidth on March 22, which will be delivered to the Public Prosecutor's Office and has so far attracted the support of more than 560,000 users at the time of writing.

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