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São Paulo city to invest $22 million in free Wi-Fi project

The project will deliver free Wi-Fi in 120 locations across the largest city in Brazil ahead of the World Cup.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer
São Paulo's Pinheiros train station. [Credit: Angelica Mari]

The mayor of São Paulo has launched a tender for a project that will deliver free Wi-Fi in 120 locations across the largest city in Brazil.

The idea is not only to provide free web access to citizens, but also to prepare for the increased number of tourists that are expected to visit the city during the major sporting events that will be taking place in Brazil in the coming years.

On May 10, a public audience was held including members of the public and companies interested in submitting bids to discuss details of the project Praças Digitais (Digital Squares, in Portuguese), which will see the city mayor's office spending R$45mi ($22mi) over the initial 36-month contract.

It seems that public Wi-Fi access will materialize soon: if the official timescales are met, the contract will be signed in mid-August and the service should be up and running by October.

Requirements set for the bidders, who will compete for lots of 18 Wi-Fi locations each, vary: at the Municipal Market, for example, contractors would need to provide a minimum of 500 concurrent connections; in other sites, such as the city's fruit and vegetable central warehouse, 150 connections will be needed at any one time. The minimum speed will be 512kpbs for download and upload, while availability should be 99% in areas deemed critical and 96% in the other locations — this will be monitored by Prodam, the IT and telecoms company run by the municipality of São Paulo.

"One of the requirements [set to the bidders] is the ability to provide full use of the Internet. We want to bring back the idea of free Wi-Fi, without restrictions of use," said the Services Secretary at the São Paulo City Hall, Simão Pedro.

The provision of free internet access in São Paulo is something that had been continuously promised in mayoral campaigns during elections since the early noughties. It was also one of the pledges of recently-elected mayor Fernando Haddad, who had initially planned for 42 Wi-Fi access locations across São Paulo — the number has now been increased to 120 to also include suburban areas of the city.

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