Brazil has the 9th-highest number of Internet users in the world and more and more Brazilians used their unlimited data plans to view streaming content more frequently. This in turn caused Brazilian ISPs to consider data caps in place to throttle the bandwidth individual users can employ in a time period, usually a month. This has set off a debate in the Brazilian public arena as well as in its legislative houses.

Data Caps Explained

Data caps are limits on how much data you can use – in the form of downloading typically – from your Internet connection. Data caps are the norm in mobile Internet technology where users pick plans based on the amount of data they will use in a month along with the number of minutes and text messages. When users exceed the data usage in a month, they either have their connection throttled or they are charged a higher rate for the overage. When Brazil’s ISPs began expanding their fixed broadband offerings a few years ago, most did so with the offer of unlimited data to customers. Once the initial sales period was over, many of the larger ISPs revealed plans to make data caps part of their broadband service. It was easy to enforce this as three companies – Telefonica, Grupo Oi, and Telecom America – control 85% of the market share.

The Data Cap Revolt

Public officials initially sided with Brazilian ISPs on the inclusion of data caps, and it became policy in 2016. Public outrage quickly followed as consumers who had signed contracts including verbiage for “unlimited use” suddenly found themselves quite limited. The public went on the offensive against the ISPs, with nearly 2 million signing an online petition. When the Brazilian Senate put together its own phone survey, 99% of the 608,470 participants were opposed to data caps. This was the motivation for Sen. Ricardo Ferraco to introduce a bill banning broadband connection data caps. The Senate passed the bill in March 2017, and the House of Representatives’ Commision of Consumer Protection approved the draft bill in August 2017. The bill is awaiting final approval by a plenary session of the House of Representatives.

Brazil’s Best Broadband ISPs

With the elimination of data caps right around the corner, it’s a great time to check out which Brazil ISPs can offer broadband customers the best services and speed going forward. At present, Brazil has between 25 million – 30 million fixed broadband subscriptions. TIM Live: A relative newcomer to the broadband game, TIM Live has the top upload speed among major providers at an average of 18.2 MBPS. Its average download speed is 28.9 MBPS. Its broadband services are located mainly in the state capitals of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, along with 19 other cities. Vivo Fibra: Vivo advertises maximum speeds of 200 MBPS for downloads and 100 MBPS for uploads.Vivo has a great infrastructure in place because it is a subsidiary of Telefonica, the largest telecom company in Brazil. NET: Net offers a lot of support and confidence for the public since it has the largest broadband market share. NET is a subsidiary of Telmex, which is owned by Mexican business mogul Carlos Slim. NET has been criticized for the discrepancy between its upload and download speeds, with the latter averaging as much as 10 times faster than the former. NET has upgraded its broadband services to fiber in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the so-called fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) package. But it comes with a high cost, bundles averaging US$350/month.

Using Broadband Safely in Brazil

As Brazil’s Internet speeds and infrastructure continue ramping up, so too do the opportunities for hackers and cybercriminals to try and infiltrate users’ networks to steal information. The best way to browse safely is to employ a virtual private network (VPN) which routes your Internet traffic through a third-party, anonymous server located in another country. The VPN hides your IP address and encrypts the information you send to websites and download from them. One of the best is SaferVPN, which has servers in more 35 countries and can even unblock the US version of Netflix. Another top-flight option is ExpressVPN, which is hailed as the fastest among the bigger companies. It has servers in 94 countries and 24/7 customer support. If you’re looking for a healthy dose of speed and security, NordVPN might be the best choice; it offres AE 256-bit encryptions and Double VPN tunnelling along with 4,400 servers in 60 countries.


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