The most recent data from Anatel show that optical fiber now accounts for more than half of all fixed internet accesses in Brazil. Of the 36.3 million broadband contracts booked by the agency, 51.5% use FTTH technology, where the fiber arrives inside the client’s home.
Optical fiber has been the main broadband technology in Brazil since March 2020. One year later, the FTTH modality (fiber to the subscriber’s home) for the first time surpassed the sum of all other means of access such as metallic cables ( xDSL or Ethernet), coaxial cable (HFC), radio and satellite.
Vivo and Oi are big in fiber, but regional stand out
Of all 18.7 million fiber optic accesses, Vivo is the leading operator in the segment, with 20.1% of the market. Oi appears in sequence, with 14.9%, followed by Brisanet, with 3.6%. Of the other large companies, Claro appears in the ranking with 2.7%, followed by TIM with 1.8%.
Although optical fiber has the majority of accesses, the major operators have a share of only 39.5% in FTTH technology. Regional providers are the real protagonists in the popularization of fiber in Brazil, and together they have 11.3 million subscribers in this means of access.
In practice, the percentage of optical fiber should be even higher, since not all small providers report their data to Anatel, which causes underreporting in broadband numbers.
The growth of optical fiber in Brazil
10 years ago, it was practically impossible to predict that optical fiber would be the main residential broadband technology in Brazil in the near future: the service even existed at the time, but it was expensive and had limited coverage to wealthier neighborhoods in large cities.
According to Anatel data, the leap in optical fiber began in late 2016, when the technology was still disputing access with radio connections. The most expressive growth started in 2017, when Anatel eased the rules for small providers.
Fiber investments by major operators
With the exception of Claro, the major operators have found it difficult to maintain broadband customers with old technology. The investment in optical fiber is on the investment radar of all the major telecommunications companies.
THE Alive is one of the main fiber optic operators, but still has millions of copper customers, whether in the areas of Telefonica or the former GVT. The operator bets on the franchise model for small providers (Terra Fibra) and on a neutral network to cover up to 5.5 million households.
THE Of course already adopts optical fiber as a means of access in the cities where it started to operate from 2018. The operator operates with broadband services in 290 Brazilian municipalities, and uses FTTH in 84 locations. The company also started to exchange coaxial cable for fiber in some neighborhoods of São Paulo (SP).
THE Hey it is another protagonist when it comes to optical fiber, and also bets on the neutral network model to replace the legacy copper network. The operator is expected to raise up to R $ 2.5 billion through convertible debentures, and recently accepted a billionaire proposal from BTG Pactual, and wants to take FTTH coverage to 15 million homes by 2021. Recently, tele started selling broadband in São Paulo (SP), with a 500 Mb / s plan for a monthly price of R $ 129.90.
Finally, the TIM it also bets on the neutral network model. Without revealing values, tele signed an exclusive agreement with an infrastructure company that will be responsible for the maintenance and expansion of the entire TIM Live network, including legacy copper infrastructure.