ANATEL (the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency) recognizes the responsibility of the telecommunications sector in the maximization of access to digital information throughout Brazil. Accordingly, it has been heavily involved in the preparation of a new regulatory model which aims to reduce the cost of internet access in Brazil.

In 1998 ANATEL created the National Information Infrastructure Committee, the objective of which is to provide recommendations for the development of the national telecommunications network including the promotion of digital inclusion and internet access. Among the barriers the committee faces in achieving its objectives are the increase in line traffic congestion with the development of the Internet, and the cost of dedicated connections. As for the latter, one of the factors attributable to the increase in the cost of internet use is Brazil's conventional telephony service billing model.

In light of these issues, the commission has developed the 0i00 Project, which consists of the use of alternative service plans based on '0i00' or 'i00' numberings for internet access. The project seeks to guarantee access providers' right of use of telecommunications service networks, while protecting their interests and maximizing internet access for the Brazilian population.

In addition to providing the 0i00 and i00 numbering, the commission establishes special lines for access providers and the viability of local loop access. Flexible billing models may be introduced, since they are more suited to providers' needs and the unique characteristics of the services offered. Alternative plans may also be created specifically for public services such as schools and hospitals. The possibility of using non-geographical numbering to access their providers is also contemplated (the so-called 'remote access' service). ANATEL is also preparing a specific regulation with the objective of separating voice traffic from data traffic as an additional way of reducing the cost of internet access.

Finally, ANATEL intends to submit for public consultation two internet access remuneration models which introduce a flat tariff for internet use. Under one of the models, telecommunications service providers will charge a single rate for unlimited internet use. Under the alternative model, internet service providers will contract the transmission capacity from telecommunications service providers, and charge for telecommunications and internet access services on the same bill. It is not yet known which model will be adopted.

For further information on this topic please contact Ricardo Barretto, Oscar Petersen or Eduardo Carvalhaes at Barretto Ferreira, Kujawski, Brancher e Gonçalves – Sociedade de Advogados by telephone (+55 11 3066 5999) or by fax (+55 11 3167 4735) or by email ([email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]).