Chamber approves agreement with Chile for free international roaming

Using a cell phone abroad is usually expensive, but an agreement between Brazil and Chile should end the charging of travelers between the two countries. The Chamber of Deputies approved the additional protocol to the Free Trade Agreement signed by the two nations in 2018, which proposes to eliminate the charging of the international roaming for Brazilians and Chileans.

Roaming agreement between Brazil and Chile is approved by the Chamber (Image: André Fogaça/Tecnoblog)

The promise to end international roaming between Brazil and Chile was signed in November 2018, when Michel Temer was still the country’s president.

The agreement states that operators “shall apply to their users who use international roaming services in the territory of the other Party the same tariffs or prices that they charge for mobile services in their own country, according to the modality contracted for each user”.

Countries also need to ensure that operators offer the same quality of national service to users of international roaming, and that implementation must be coordinated by Anatel and the Chilean Undersecretary of Telecommunications.

The agreement provides that international roaming is free for voice, messaging and mobile internet connections. A Brazilian tourist who is in Chile, for example, will be able to make calls to numbers in Brazil or Chile at the same rate as their current plan.

In addition to facilitating access, the end of international roaming charges should benefit many Brazilians who visit Chile: the country requires prior registration of the telephone’s serial number (IMEI) so that foreigners can buy a local SIM card.

The rapporteur of the protocol in the Chamber, Deputy Aluísio Mendes (PSC-MA), affirms that the end of roaming “will bring a series of advantages for consumers, generating a direct impact on the development of the mobile telephony market in the region”. The congressman argues that gratuity is a “practical measure, relatively simple to implement, both from a technical and operational point of view, as well as in terms of achieving and maintaining the economic balance”.

The agreement also needs to be approved by the Federal Senate. According to teletime, the text had already been approved by the Congress of Chile.

Claro and Vivo have sister operators in Chile

For some Brazilian operators, the implementation of international roaming from Chile should not bring much headache:

  • The course Brazil is a subsidiary of Mexico’s América Móvil, which also owns course Chile;
  • The I live Brazil is under the umbrella of the spanish woman Telephone, which is also the controller of the operator Movistar Chile.

Of the large national telecoms, Oi and TIM do not have sister operators in Chile, and need to establish roaming agreements with telecoms in the other country. Likewise, Chile also has two operators without branches in Brazil, Entel and WOM.

In addition, several cell phone plans in Brazil already include coverage in Chile at no additional cost:

  • The Of course has the Américas Passport included in the entire current postpaid portfolio, and allows international roaming in 18 countries in the region;
  • The Alive also includes Vivo Travel Américas in Vivo Pós, Vivo Família and Vivo Selfie;
  • The TIM allows the use of data in Chile and other destinations abroad in some postpaid TIM Black options.

Even with existing options, the end of data roaming is still very important: the Brazilian operators only include the service abroad at no additional cost in postpaid plans. A large part of the cell lines in Brazil are in prepaid or control, which still charge per minute of call or megabyte traffic.

Will we have new international roaming agreements?

Brazil is building an international roaming agreement with Chile, and that’s great. But it is worth noting that the European Union has advanced with this practice for some time now, and there is no charge for the use of cell phones for Europeans who travel between countries in the bloc.

We still dream of a similar mechanism involving countries in the Americas, and this subject has already been discussed before: 19 countries in the region, including Brazil, Argentina, Canada, United States and Mexico signed in 2018 the Buenos Aires Charter of the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (Citel ).

The document, which sought measures to reduce digital inequality in the countries of the Americas, provided for the end of international roaming and tariff revisions by 2022. Here we are in 2021, and cell phone use abroad remains inaccessible and limited for most Brazilians . 🤡

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