Viasat Inc., a global communications company, announced today the launch of Community Wi-Fi trials in Brazil. The Community Wi-Fi hotspot initiative is focused on providing high-speed, affordable, satellite broadband connectivity to people where internet connections are slow or non-existent. Beginning in July 2019, Viasat will launch a trial program, deploying free Community Wi-Fi hotspots, with speeds up to 25 Mbps, in 20 unserved or underserved communities in the state of São Paulo. The Company intends to expand the service to Brazil’s Northeast region later this year.
Brazil will be the second country to receive Viasat’s Community Wi-Fi hotspot service, which was officially launched in 2018 in Mexico. Currently, more than 1.5 million Mexicans living in communities that previously had little or no internet connectivity, are now within walking distance to a Viasat Community Wi-Fi hotspot.
Viasat’s Community Wi-Fi hotspot service is highly-scalable. It can be deployed with minimal local infrastructure investment, in order to quickly bring cost-effective internet service to locations where large gaps exist between demand, affordability and availability of internet services. Service can be installed in a few hours at strategic locations within a community. Typical installations are conducted in partnership with a centrally-located community business (e.g. general store), with internet services sold in either data or time-based packages, and availability of those services reaching deep into the community footprint.
“There are millions of Brazilians that have little or no opportunity for quality internet access, either because of the lack of terrestrial infrastructure or because the internet service offered in their communities is too expensive,” said Kevin Cohen, managing director, Global Community Wi-Fi, Viasat. “By launching Community Wi-Fi in Brazil, we are providing a way for Brazilians to connect to the internet at affordable prices. They can communicate with family and friends, access educational study materials, participate in e-healthcare initiatives, enhance their career opportunities and even participate in e-commerce and online banking programs.”
The satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi service leverages the Telebras-owned SGDC-1 satellite, which operates in the 18/28 GHz spectrum band. In February 2018, Viasat entered into an agreement with Telebras for the commercial use of the satellite, serving initiatives such as Viasat’s Community Wi-Fi, residential and business internet and in-flight connectivity. The partnership with Telebras also includes serving public schools, healthcare units and other public services under the Brazilian e-government initiative Governo Eletrônico – Serviço de Atendimento ao Cidadão (GESAC) of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC).
Lisa Scalpone, vice president and general manager of Viasat do Brasil added, “We are fully committed to help Brazil close its digital gap by connecting millions of people in the country to high-quality internet, no matter where they are. We want everyone to have access to the same knowledge and opportunities, to have a voice and actively participate in the global community. Today’s Community Wi-Fi trial launch is an important step to connecting all of Brazil.”
Viasat is working with strategic partners for the roll-out of its Community Wi-Fi initiative, including partners like Visiontec, announced in early June. Visiontec is helping with the installation and maintenance of the Community Wi-Fi infrastructure at the 20 trial sites. Internet connectivity is expected to be provided as a free service for the duration of the trial program.