We need to fear the franchise in fixed broadband; here are the reasons | Telecommunications

An exclusive report from Techblog revealed Claro’s broadband speed limitation: the owner of the NET Virtua service applied a reduction to 30 Mb/s download for some customers with 240 Mb/s contracts and who used more than 4 TB during the month. With an Anatel injunction in force prohibiting this type of practice, is it necessary to fear the franchise on the fixed internet? Yes, even though regional providers have intensified competition – check out the reasons below.


The ghost of the broadband franchise returns to haunt Brazilians (Image: Pixabay)

Are there a lot of people with limited internet at Claro?

There were over 150 comments in the community of Techblog on the matter of broadband NET Virtua, in addition to various publications on social networks. Several customers identified themselves with the same situation, but it is necessary to explain that not everyone received limitation from Claro.

In these comments, it is possible to see a general discontent on the part of Claro NET’s customers. Several complain about the speed delivered below the contracted rate, but it is necessary to analyze the scenario:

  • many use the connection via WiFi, which has a natural speed limitation and suffers interference from neighbors’ networks and other equipment that act in the electromagnetic field;
  • most of Claro’s customers use their own Wi-Fi modem provided by the operator on a lending basis – many of these devices do not have good signal strength and can harm the internet usage experience;
  • many customers also use the Wi-Fi network on the 2.4GHz frequency for having greater signal coverage, but this spectrum suffers from more interference, has less traffic capacity and hardly reaches speeds greater than 100 Mb/s;
  • there are regions where the Claro’s network is saturated by simultaneous use of many clients, and at peak times the internet usage experience can be poor.

Problems with saturated network and use of the Wi-Fi modem provided as a free lease do not only fall on Claro – Vivo, Oi, TIM and regional providers also face similar situations.

To ensure a better connection, it is ideal that the use of network cable is prioritized on devices that use more data, such as computers, video games and smart TVs. Anyone who can buy their own router — preferably with Wi-Fi Mesh technology — will have a wireless network with better quality than that provided by the operator’s modem.

There are, in fact, more people who have been limited

Internet router (Image: nrkbeta/Flickr)

Internet router (Image: nrkbeta/Flickr)

Moving 4 terabytes isn’t an easy task — although it’s not impossible, especially with next-gen video games. O Techblog interviewed two Claro NET users, but after the article was published, other clients appeared with a similar situation.

Reader Henrique Matheus, from Ribeirão Preto (SP), was also affected by Claro’s limitation. He reports that he contracted 120 Mb/s broadband and gained double speed during the 12 month period, but was also limited to 30 Mb/s for heavy usage.

Like the other clients, Henrique’s speed was re-established for the contractor after several technical visits. However, the limitation happened again the next day.

Henrique complained about Claro at Anatel. The operator sent a reply stating that “data consumption (…) has been shown to be incompatible with the average use of the network by customers (…), presenting itself in disagreement with the profile of contracted residential use”.

The operator also states that it is necessary to “evaluate with Embratel, or another company, a product that best meets your needs”, and discourages the continuity of the contract by saying that this type of service does not exist in Claro’s residential portfolio:

Claro's answer on broadband limitation

Claro’s answer about broadband limitation (Image: Personal archive)

After Claro’s response to Anatel’s complaint, Henrique reported that it was necessary to cancel the NET Virtua broadband contract.

But now we have regional providers!

All major operators (Claro, Oi, Vivo and TIM) have some data traffic limitation imposed on their plans’ contracts. When the ghost of the broadband franchise emerged in 2016, many Brazilians were concerned about the future of broadband in Brazil.

However, from 2016 until now, there has been a significant change in the market: small providers, together, represent 39.2% of fixed broadband contracts in April 2021. This number should be even higher, considering that there is a relevant sub-notification of regional operators in Anatel’s data system.

In some regions, the offer of fixed broadband has never been higher: I myself live in a place where four local operators compete with traditional telecoms. However, there are still several regions (especially in the central areas of cities) that do not have an optical fiber option available.

Claro NET Virtua broadband cable modem. Photo: Lucas Braga/Technoblog

In some places, Claro is the only viable broadband operator (Image: Lucas Braga/Tecnoblog)

An example: in the Copacabana neighborhood, in Rio de Janeiro (RJ), there is still no availability of Vivo Fibra, Oi Fibra or any other regional provider, only Claro NET and Oi ADSL — and the latter interrupted the sale of internet through copper to new subscribers. The only operator capable of offering speeds greater than 100 Mb/s in this region is Claro, through coaxial cables. Similar situations happen in several regions within the big cities.

Broadband franchise can be a problem

Some operators in the United States have had broadband contracts for a long time, and offer the option of unlimited plans for an additional fee. However, Cox, which has 5.2 million Internet customers, threatens to slow down entire regions through overuse.

According to Ars Technica, a customer with a gigabit speed plan — which also has an additional $50 package for unlimited use — was flagged about reducing broadband across the neighborhood. He was traveling anywhere from 8TB to 12TB a month, and received an ultimatum from Cox to reduce usage and prevent his contract from being terminated.

With the example above, I think the title of the article can be answered: yes, we should be afraid of fixed broadband franchises, especially those users who use the internet more intensely and do not have other operators available in the region.

In 2019, Claro asked Anatel to release fixed broadband franchises in Brazil, so that telecoms can exercise “freedom in business models”. The operator is also present in the Dominican Republic, where it already applies suspension of use of the residential internet for those who exceed the 2 terabytes trafficked mark.

The injunction in force by Anatel that prohibits reductions in speed, connection cuts or additional charges for fixed internet accesses is a great relief, but it is not known for how long. In addition to the fact that some operators are already violating this rule, there is a great risk that this measure of consumer protection will be revoked, as the agency goes through a “regulatory guillotine” process to simplify the rules.

Tecnocast 198 – The ghost of the broadband franchise

Should the discussion of franchises be resumed? Are there technical and objective aspects involved in speed limitation? How does the context of the pandemic and the success of small operators influence the issue? These are some of the subjects covered in this episode to help you understand this thorny theme. Play and come with us!

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