This article will give you a better understanding of the mobile operators in the Brazilian market and how they are positioned.
Today Brazil is one of the largest markets in the world for mobile communication with nearly 100% penetration in most parts of Brazil.
Mobile adoptions are heavily fueled by a poor cooper infrastructure in major cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Even in central parts of the cities it's often difficult to get a good quality “last-mile” connection for regular landlines; although you manage to get a landline, it might be difficult to utilize the line for broadband technology due to interference with other landlines.
At the moment, there are no Virtual Mobile Operators in Brazil; all the 7 mobile and one radio over mobile operators that are currently operating in the Brazilian market own and maintain their own infrastructure.
Looking at the Brazilian market, it's easy to spot the four largest operators and together they are responsible for more than 99% of the market. Although the four largest mobile operators appear to be large organizations, they are all the result of various acquisitions of smaller companies.
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The largest mobile operator in Brazil that is owned by Telefonica and has 30,14% of the Brazilian market share (Q3 2010). From their total of 55,97 million subscribers, 79,7% are using their pre-paid plan (Q2 2010).
Vivo's network has national coverage and their services are mainly sold through a national network of Vivo retailers.
Traditionally, Vivo operated a CDMA network but in 2007, the transition to a GSM network started. In 2008, GSM was already the dominating technology.
Their data network is based on WCDMA / HSDPA; in addition, they also operate a small EVDO network that will be discontinued in the future.
The second largest mobile operator in Brazil that is owned by América Móvil and has 25,47% of the Brazilian market share (Q3 2010).
From their total of 48,76 million subscribers, 80,8% are using their pre-paid plan (Q3 2010).
Claro's network has national coverage and their services are mainly sold through a national network of Claro retailers.
Claro operates a GSM network in the 850 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency. Their data network is based on GPRS/EDGE for GSM and WCDMA for their 3G network.
The third largest mobile operator in Brazil that is owned by Telecom Italia and has 24,52% of the Brazilian market share (Q3 2010).
From their total of 46,94 million subscribers, 84,6% are using their pre-paid plan (Q3 2010).
TIM's network has national coverage and their services are mainly sold through a national network of TIM retailers.
TIM operates a GSM network in the A and B band. Their data network is based on GPRS/EDGE for GSM and they also operate a 3G network in the 1,9 GHz/2,1 GHz spectrum.
The fourth largest mobile operator in Brazil that is owned by Telemar and has 19,51% of the Brazilian market share (Q3 2010).
From their total of 37,35 million subscribers, 85,8% are using their pre-paid plan (Q3 2010).
It was first in 2008 that Oi got national coverage when they entered São Paulo with their services. Oi have an especially strong position in the North East area of Brazil where they hold 32,1% of the market (Q3 2010).
CTBC belongs to the Algar Group and operates a mobile network in the central inland of Brazil. The company is based out of Uberlândia, Minas Gerais and has 0,31% of the Brazilian market share (Q3 2010).
From their total of 589 thousand subscribers, 66,9% are using their pre-paid plan (Q2 2010).
Sercomtel is a super local mobile operator based in Londrina, Paraná and only provides network coverage in the Londrina area; however, in 2009 Anatel gave Sercomtel license to expand services throughout the entire Paraná state.
At the moment, Sercomtel has 0,04% of the Brazilian market share with only 77 thousand subscribers (Q3 2010).
Aeiou is the absolute smallest of the Brazilian mobile operators with only about 20 000 subscribers. Their GSM network was opened in 2008 and only covers the greater São Paulo area.
Nextel Brasil is a subsidiary of US based NII Holdings that has a license to use the Nextel brand in Latin America. Unlike in the US where Nextel now only exists as the brand name for Sprint's line of walkie-talkie enabled phones, Nextel in Brazil is a full service provider.
Nextel operate a network based on Motorola's iDEN standard in 365 cities throughout Brazil.
Because Nextel use a different technology and have a large corporate focus, they are normally not considered as a mobile operator but rather a network operator, although they have 2,86 million subscribers (Q2 2010).
At the moment, Nextel have a strong focus on the corporate market; however, there are often asked questions about how long they will keep working isolated from the other mobile operators in Brazil.