Brazilian telco Oi SA, formed through the restructuring of Telemar Participacoes’ former operating divisions Brasil Telecom, Tele Norte Leste Participacoes, Coari Participacoes and Telemar Norte Leste, has deployed its first Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the city of Rio de Janeiro, BNAmericas writes citing a statement by the company. Oi SA is planning to trial the 4G technology in Rio until December, at which date it will move towards full commercial deployment with a ‘soft launch’ phase. By the end of this year the carrier aims to extend LTE pilot tests to other localities in Rio, as well as expanding its footprint to Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
Earlier, Oi announced details of its 2012-2015 strategic plan, under which a total of BRL24 billion (USD12 billion) will be invested in its fixed and mobile infrastructure, including USD6 billion in 2012 alone. The carrier’s CEO Francisco Valim recently told journalists that his company is spending BRL1 billion on LTE in the short term, and that it is looking to extend LTE coverage to 50% of the population in seven Brazilian cities by April 2013 – ahead of the country’s hosting of several major sporting events, including the 2014 Football World Cup. The Oi official said that the operator is aiming to sign contracts with as yet unspecified vendors for 4G equipment on 16 October.
In a related development, Oi rival Telecom Americas (Claro) says it is looking to begin selling LTE modems from Saturday 6 October. Claro, which is backed by America Movil (AM) and which claimed to be the first Brazilian mobile operator to launch a full-blown, permanent 4G network in the country, is selling the E392 modem developed by Chinese manufacturer Huawei. The modem is also compatible with 2G, 3G and 3.5G (HSPA/HSPA+) frequencies. Claro also holds the mantle of being the first Brazilian cellco to offer an LTE-ready smartphone, when it began selling the Motorola’s RAZR HD in its stores on 22 September.