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THE 2019 MOBILE REVIEW BRAZIL

For the first time, the network benchmarking expert P3 and the magazine connect have analyzed the mobile networks in Brazil. We have conducted a thorough crowd based analysis over a period of three months both for the whole country and for the large Brazilian cities Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. This comprehensive Mobile Review Brazil takes into account the challenges mobile operators face with an extremely large country and a disparate distribution
of its population. Furthermore, we have compared the city results with those of leading world capitals.

RESULTS IN A NUTSHELL

Overall, the Brazilian mobile networks show acceptable results in the metropolitan areas while in the more rural parts of the country, they lack in coverage and performance. Still, P3‘s sophisticated crowdsourcing analysis reveals specific strengths of each operator. As this Mobile Review of the networks in Brazil is not based on the full methodology of our regular network benchmarks, we abstained from grading the operators.
However, analyzing the P3 crowd data provides a good indication of their achievements. The extensive crowdsourcing analysis, based on 6.3 billion samples collected in a 3-month period from December 2018 to February 2019 and additional analyses for large Brazilian cities (here for the nation‘s capital, Brasilia, as well as for Rio de Janeiro) provide clear results: Mobile coverage and good network performance clearly concentrate on Brazil‘s larger cities and metropolitan areas. These findings can be explained to some degree by the huge size of the country and its distinct geographical distribution of the  population – about 90 per cent of the Brazilian population are located in the federal states near the southern and eastern coast of the country.
Particularly in the metropolitan areas, the performance and quality of mobile networks is overall acceptable and keeps up with the average of international operators. However, in the more rural areas of Brazil, there is room for improvement for all Brazilian operators.
In our nationwide assessment, Telefónica (Vivo) leads the field overall and also  shows the best voice and data coverage. TIM ranks best in 4G coverage, while Claro achieves the best score for the average user download speed. In the  considered evaluation period, Telefónica and Oi suffered the least service degradations, thus achieving the best score for data service availability. Deeper insights as well as results for different evaluation areas and periods can be made available to interested parties on request.

 

In the densely populated metropolitan areas, the results of the Brazilian operators can keep up with the average of other international mobile networks. Overall and nationwide, Vivo leads the field. However, in the more rural areas of Brazil, there is clearly room for improvement for all Brazilian operators.

OPERATORS IN BRAZIL

With 231,8 million subscribers, Brazil has a mobile telecommunications penetration rate of approximately 110 per cent. The four large operators, which have resulted from numerous mergers and acquisitions, are still accompanied by a number of smaller, mostly regional contenders.

Vivo

The originally state-owned Telebás was demerged and privatized in 1998. International telecommunications provider Telefónica bought the São Paulo
division and expanded it by subsequent mergers and joint ventures. In 2006, the several holding companies merged into the single company Vivo. In 2012,
all Brazilian Telefónica services were rebranded to Vivo. Today, Telefónica holds about 74% of Vivo‘s shares. With approximately 74 million subscribers, Vivo is Brazil‘s largest operator.
It operates GSM at 850, 900 and 1800 MHz, UMTS at 850 and 2100 MHz as well as LTE and LTE-Advanced at 700, 1800 and 2600 MHz.

Claro

Claro Brasil was created in 2003, uniting the regional operators Americel, ATL, BCP, Claro Digital and TESS. Today, the resulting company Claro is
controlled by the Mexican company América Móvil, which is also present in 16 other Latin American countries. Claro‘s offerings include mobile, satellite television, fixed and broadband telecommunications. With approximately 59 million subscribers, Claro is Brazil‘s second largest mobile operator.
It offers GSM at 850 and 1800 MHz, UMTS at 850 and 2100 MHz, as well as LTE/LTE-A at 700, 1800 and 2600 MHz.

TIM

Founded in 1998, TIM Brasil SA was originally a subsidiary of Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM). In 2016 the mother company itself became part of Telecom Italia. In addition to its mobile networks, TIM also offers fixed-line internet connections in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Today, TIM has about 56 million mobile customers and thus ranks as the third largest mobile operator in Brazil.
The company operates GSM at 850 and 1800 MHz, UMTS at 850, 900 and 2100 MHz plus LTE/LTE-Advanced networks at 700, 850, 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz.

Oi

Formerly known as Telemar, Oi is the largest fixed telecommunications operator in Brazil, also offering Pay TV. With approximately 37 million mobile customers, the company is the country‘s fourth largest mobile operator. In contrast to its three larger competitors, Oi does not belong to any multi-national telecommunications company – about 76 per cent of its shares are free floating. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2016, but managed to keep operating since.
It offers GSM at 1800 MHz, UMTS at 850, 900 and 2100 MHz as well as LTE/LTE-A at 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz.

Additional Smaller And Regional Operators

Especially the LTE and LTE-Advanced offerings of Brazil‘s larger mobile operators concentrate in the bigger cities of the country. There are also still many smaller, regional contenders. Owned by an US-American holding company, Nextel accounts for about 3.2 million customers and operates UMTS at 2100 MHz and LTE at 1800 and 2100 MHz in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brazil‘s Federal District. In areas where Nextel does not offer its own coverage, customers can roam on Vivo. In the foreseeable future, Nextel is announced to be merged into Claro. The privately owned Algar Telecom is present in the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, and in the Federal District, servicing 1.3 million mobile customers with GSM at 900 and 1800 MHz, UMTS at 2100 MHz and LTE at 700 and 1800 MHz. Sercomtel is a local mobile and fixed-line provider in the state of Paraná, servicing about 60,000 customers with GSM services at 900 and 1800 MHz, as well as UMTS at 850 MHz. SurfTelecom is mostly known as a MVNO using the TIM network, but also operates its own TDD-LTE network at 2600 MHz in São Paulo city. The subscription TV provider Sky Brazil operates TDD-LTE cells at 2600 MHz in some cities. For the last two, no mobile customer numbers are publicly available.

A STUDY INTO THE BRAZILIAN MOBILE MARKET

With their first Mobile Review Brazil, P3 and connect take a closer look into this large and dynamic mobile telecommunications market.

With a gross domestic product of 1.9 billion dollars in 2018, Brazil is the ninth largest economy worldwide. Regarding land area and population, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. And with approximately 208 million people, Brazil is the most populated country in South America. After a recession in 2015 and 2016, Brazil‘s economy is growing again. All these factors are very good reasons for P3 and connect to take a closer look into the Brazilian mobile communications market. P3, headquartered in Aachen, Germany, is a world leader in mobile network testing. The company has over 3,500  employees worldwide and a turnover of more than 350 million Euros. P3 is partnering with the international telecommunications magazine connect, which has more than 20 years of editorial expertise and is one of the leading test authorities in Europe for telecommunications products and services.  Together, P3 and connect have been conducting the most important network benchmark test in Germany for more than 15 years, extending it to other  European countries since 2009. P3 and connect also examined many other mobile networks all over the world including those in the US. As the de-facto industry standard, the P3 benchmarking methodology focuses on customer-perceived network quality. P3‘s network tests are widely accepted as a completely objective authority.

CROWDSOURCING PROVIDES INTERESTING RESULTS FOR NATIONWIDE NETWORK QUALITY AS WELL AS DETAILED INSIGHTS FOR METROPOLITAN AREAS
Recently, P3 and connect have extended the scope of their network assessments with a qualified look into the Brazilian mobile market. This market is  particularly interesting due to its market penetration rate of approximately 110 per cent (see previous page) and its four nationwide operators, who each  serve tens of millions of mobile customers. P3 and connect recognize the challenges of providing mobile communications services in this huge country with  its unique geography and a very special geographic distribution of the population. Therefore, the following review is mainly based on the results of  crowdsourced assessments. In order to take a closer look into some of the densely populated city areas, we have also included detailed analyses for the  nation‘s capital Brasilia and the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro as well as a comparison of their results to those of other leading world capitals.

CROWD

For the most recent crowdsourcing analysis conducted in Brazil, 966 thousand users have contributed 6.3 billion samples. The evaluation area of our crowdsourcing represents 81.2 per cent of the built-up area of the country.

THE CROWD­SOURCED RESULTS EMPHASIZE THE DIFFICULTIES IN PROVIDING A WIDELY DISTRIBUTED HIGH MOBILE NETWORK PERFORMANCE OVER THE HUGE COUNTRY OF BRAZIL

With an area of 8.5 million square kilometres, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, accounting for more than 47 per cent of the surface of South America. It is no surprise that this unique geography means huge challenges for mobile operators and makes it very hard to provide countrywide network coverage. As about 90 per cent of the Brazilian population are located in the federal states near the southern and eastern coast of the country, obviously mobile network operators focus on servicing these areas – especially the larger cities. These prerequisites are also reflected in testing and benchmarking the performance and coverage of mobile networks. For the reasons mentioned, approaches such as classic drive­testing can only consider more densely populated areas. In contrast, the method of crowdsourcing is ideally suited to analyze the actual characteristics of the Brazilian mobile networks.These analyses are based on ­gathering information in the background while smartphone owners use a set of specific apps. However, the most important aspect is that this approach is based on data gathered from 81.2 per cent of the built-up area of Brazil – which makes it statistically significant for the whole country.

THREE-MONTH OBSERVATION PERIOD
P3‘s crowdsourcing metrics are based on three-month periods. The most current one covers the months December 2018, January 2019 and February 2019. Interested parties are welcome to approach P3 any time for even more current results.
The results were placed into our scoring scheme with a maximum of 1,000 points. They reflect the difficulties to provide high and widely distributed  mobile network performance over the huge country of Brazil.

TELEFÓNICA SCORES HIGHEST IN VOICE AND DATA COVERAGE

In voice and data coverage The coverage values determined for voice and data rate the areas where the according services are available. However, it must be taken into ­account that the specified percentage values do not reflect the respective parts of Brazil‘s land area, but the quota of points that an operator can achieve in this discipline. These points are earned for both the actual coverage and also the “Quality of Coverage“ – a value representing whether voice and data services actually work in the considered ­evaluation area. Telefónica (Vivo) reaches the best result for data coverage – but it is striking that the achieved 24 per cent of available points are a far better result than the 9 per cent which Vivo gathers for voice coverage. In both disciplines, Vivo scores still higher than its competitors. But the gap is much wider in  the data category than in the voice category, where all four Brazilian operators rank closely together.

TIM GATHERS HIGHEST NUMBER OF POINTS FOR 4G COVERAGE

When assessing the coverage of 4G service, TIM is closely ahead of its competitors. Vivo and Claro still achieve results in a similar range, while Oi ranks clearly behind.

CLARO AHEAD OF COMPETITION IN USER DOWNLOAD SPEED

The crowdsourcing also assesses the data rates that users actually achieve when utilizing their smartphones. In this examination, Claro is leading the field, followed at a distance by Telefónica and then TIM. Once again, Oi ranks last in this discipline.

TELEFÓNICA AND OI LEADING IN DATA SERVICE AVAILABILITY

This KPI rates the number and length of service degradations within the observation period. Between December 2018 and February 2019, Telefónica and Oi achieved the highest scores, effectively ranking on par. Claro and TIM follow at some distance, but both still achieved viable results.

DETAILED ANALYSIS FOR THE METROPOLITAN AREAS OF BRASILIA AND RIO DE JANEIRO

As already mentioned before, the unique geography of Brazil and its distinct population distribution have a clear effect: The Brazilian operators concentrate much more on providing coverage and services to the larger metropolitan areas than to the rural parts of the country.
In order to investigate how pronounced the differences in network coverage and quality are, we have conducted additional crowdsourced analyses for the areas of Brasilia, the nation‘s capital, as well as for Rio de Janeiro. This, geographically focused examination covers the same period as our nationwide analysis – spanning December 2018, January 2019 and February 2019.

IN RIO DE JANEIRO, TIM IS AHEAD IN VOICE AND DATA COVERAGE
In Rio de Janeiro, TIM leads the field both in voice and data coverage. In both disciplines, Telefónica (Vivo) follows closely behind. In data coverage, Claro ranks not too far behind the leading two contenders.

IN BRASILIA, CLARO ACHIEVES HIGHEST SCORE FOR VOICE AND DATA COVERAGE.
As expected, the coverage KPIs are considerably higher in the larger cities than those determined for the whole country. In Brasilia, Claro is ahead of the competition both in terms of voice and data coverage. Telefónica (Vivo) and TIM follow at close distance in data coverage, while Telefónica ranks a little further behind Claro regarding voice coverage.

TIM IS AHEAD FOR 4G COVERAGE IN BRASILIA AS WELL AS IN RIO DE JANEIRO
When it comes to analyzing the coverage with 4G services, TIM is clearly ahead both in Brasilia as well as in Rio de Janeiro. While the other contenders also achieve feasible results, it is striking that Oi ranks significantly behind the other three contenders in both examined metropolitan areas.

TELEFONICA SCORES BEST FOR USER DOWNLOAD SPEED IN BRASILIA, IN IO DE JANEIRO, CLARO LEADS THE FIELD
When investigating the download speed that users actually achieve, Telefónica scores best in Brasilia, especially due to strong values in the so-called P90  assessment (10 per cent of the users are faster than …) and the average values of the best throughput achieved by each individual user. Claro follows close behind, and TIM ranks third in this discipline.
In Rio de Janeiro, Claro leads the field – not only providing the fastest speeds in the top 10 per cent of the evaluation areas, but also being ahead in the P90
and average values of the best throughput per user. Here, Telefónica is a strong follower, while TIM again ranks third in this partial consideration. In both
regions, Oi comes in last also in the category of user download speeds.
An evaluation of data service availability is not published for this aggregation of metropolitan areas, as its evaluation period is typically longer than three months, and a limitation to city areas would not provide very meaningful results.

CROWD RESULTS AT A GLANCE

In the nationwide crowdsourced assessment, Telefónica (Vivo) achieves the strongest score overall and also provides the best voice and data coverage. TIM ranks best in 4G coverage, while Claro achieves the best score for user download speed. Telefónica and Oi score best for data service availability. In the additional crowdsourced examination of the metropolitan areas of Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, analyzed for the period from December 2018 to February  2019, Claro achieves the highest scores for voice and data coverage in Brasilia. In Rio de Janeiro, TIM is ahead in voice and data coverage, with Telefónica  following closely behind in both disciplines. When it comes to 4G coverage, TIM is clearly ahead both in Brasilia as well as in Rio de Janeiro. Telefónica  scores best in user download speed in Brasilia, while Claro leads the field concerning this KPI in Rio de Janeiro.

HOW DOES BRASILIA COMPARE TO OTHER WORLD CAPITALS?

As the country´s capital, Brasilia is competing with other metropolitan areas on a global scale. Therefore, we have compared our crowdsourced throughput results gathered in Brasilia with those achieved in Berlin, Cape Town, Jakarta, London, Singapore and Sydney.

A look at the average values of the best throughputs achieved by each individual user participating in our crowdsourcing for the metropolitan areas of  Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro shows that the Brazilian operators score in the middle field worldwide. The analysis considers the same evaluation period (December 2018 to February 2019) as the other crowd results in this report.

VERY STRONG SINGAPORE AND SYDNEY, COMPARABLE PERFORMANCE IN LONDON AND JAKARTA
A more detailed look at the single values provides interesting results. Claro, Telefonica and TIM score significantly better than Oi.

In the selection of worldwide business centers at hand, Singapore and Sydney, Australia, clearly lead the field. London, UK, and Jakarta, Indonesia, obtain comparable results as the three stronger Brazilian providers. Although falling behind, Oi performs similar as or slightly better than the operators in Cape Town, South Africa, or the weaker contenders in Jakarta or London. Berlin, Germany, scores behind the three stronger Brazilian providers. But Oi still ranks behind the three German operators. However, when evaluating the actual results, it must be taken into account that areas such as Singapore are densely covered with buildings, whereas cities like

Berlin or London contain a higher share of open spaces such as parks or fringe areas, which are provided with less mobile coverage and also comprise of less mobile users. The analysis at hand concentrates on data throughputs. But an additional look at the coverage with 4G services, 3G/2G data services as well as voice services in the considered cities also provides interesting results. Deeper insights can be made available to interested parties on request. However, a clear takeaway from the crowdsourced analysis is that the performance and quality of mobile networks are overall acceptable in the larger Brazilian cities – in these areas, it keeps up with the average of international contenders. However, in the more rural areas of Brazil,
there is a clear opportunity for improvements for the Brazilian operators.