A Rocky Evolution
Brazil's telecom operators both big and small have clashed with regulators as the post-privatization landscape continues to evolve.
This year's developments in the Brazilian telecom industry have played out like a steamy
with political wrangling and struggling
companies starring in the leading
roles. The issues at stake -
interference and ambiguous
regulations - remain hotly
contested, particularly since
more than half of the population
still lacks basic phone service.
In June, the four incumbent fixed-line
companies - Telemar, Brasil
Telecom, Telefônica, and long-distance
carrier Embratel - agreed to sign
contracts with the government extending
their operating licenses until 2026. All
four companies bought control of their
respective region and industry (see map)
during Brazil's 1998 telecom
privatization, a $19 billion program
aimed at opening the market to
competition, lowering the costs for
consumers and increasing the availability
of phone service. Prior to 1998, only 11%
of the population even had a phone.
There are now 40 million lines in service.
When the negotiations for the new
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