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Brazil isn't 'Mobile Ready' for the FIFA World Cup

March 03, 2014


With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics behind us, it’s time to look forward to the next major international sporting event: the 2014 World Cup, which is being hosted in Brazil. Aside from the obvious differences between the two, however, it seems that the World Cup will differ from the Olympics on a key technological front, according to a new report from Infonetics Research (News - Alert).

Put simply, the latest “2G, 3G, LTE Mobile Infrastructure and Subscribers in Brazil” market share and forecast report — which tracks GSM, W-CDMA and LTE (News - Alert) equipment and mobile subscribers in the country — suggests Brazil isn’t “mobile-ready” for World Cup.

“Despite the size of the country and its economic clout, Brazil’s mobile infrastructure is modest in size, with a total installed base of just 60,000 base transceiver stations at the beginning of last year. For comparison’s sake, AT&T (News - Alert) alone has roughly this many BTS in the U.S.,” said Stéphane Téral, Infonetics’ principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics, in a statement. “Brazil has even bigger problems to address, of course, with ongoing anti-World Cup riots and other infrastructure issues, but I don’t see how they will possibly be mobile-ready in 4 months for the FIFA World Cup.”

In other words, it seems as though the World Cup may be held without adequate mobile coverage this year — a stark contrast from the Sochi Olympics’ heavy use of wireless and M2M technology.

Obviously, this would affect coverage of the World Cup; most obviously, it would lean heavily toward more traditional television broadcasting. On the plus side, it might lessen the occurrence of embarrassing social media gaffes, like when a reporter had his Twitter account suspended during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London for tweeting an NBC executive’s email address. In other words, poor wireless coverage won’t necessarily be negative. Besides, those who really want to watch the World Cup will find a way to do so.

Regardless, Brazil currently doesn’t have enough base transceiver stations to accommodate its current wireless subscriber load. As such, mobile communications are slow — around 1.4Mbps on average — and will only get worse if nothing is done over the next few months.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker