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 announced the launch of commercial 4G services in Rio de Janeiro – one of the six FIFA football Confederations Cup host cities. However, people living in the remaining five cities will have to wait until May before its Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks come on-stream.
Oi SA is required to have 4G technology in place in the aforementioned host cities by 30 April, at which date they must be available to at least 50% of the urban population; the cities involved are Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza. However, BNamericas quotes the operator’s chief operating officer James Meaney as saying that the coverage requirement concerns only the technical availability of 4G, not the actual commercial launch. ‘Commercial strategies concern the operator only. For strategic reasons we prefer not to reveal ours for the remaining cities. But the technology will be available by the deadline set, with sales beginning in the first half of May,’ the COO told journalists at a conference in Rio.
Meaney went on to say that Oi intends to accelerate its 4G launch in Sao Paulo – Brazil’s largest municipality and a host city for the FIFA football World Cup – although he stopped short of divulging a launch date. 4G deployment in Sao Paulo will be provided via its network sharing deal with TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil), he added. Oi SA hopes to make savings of BRL200 million (USD100 million) over three years through its LTE network sharing plan with TIM Brasil – backed by Telecom Italia. Brazilian-owned Oi SA had planned to invest BRL1 billion in 4G through 2015, but has been able to scale back on this CAPEX by dint of the sharing deal. It now aims to spend BRL800 million to reach the same level of coverage, Meaney said.