Brazil takes a leap into digital integration – 12/20/2020 – Ronaldo Lemos

The last week was one of the most important for those fighting for digital inclusion in Brazil. At least two major laws have progressed with successes and some flaws. The subject is urgent. 70 million Brazilians are poorly connected or have no connection. No country can develop today without connectivity, telecommunications infrastructure and the Internet.

The legislation passed by Congress corrects part of a decade of neglect. The largest concerns Fust, the universalization fund for telecommunications services.

This fund was established in 2000 to help expand access in the country. Good idea with serious problems.

First, it could only be used to expand telephony (the only network subject to universalization).

Second, although more than R $ 16 billion was raised between 2001 and 2015, only 1.2% of the amount was used for investments in telecommunications. Everything else went to “the widow’s wallet”.

The legislation has been changing all of last week with the passage of Law 14.109. Fust can now be used on a wide variety of networks and services, including the Internet and new connectivity technologies.

At this point the law hit the bull’s eye. It’s not all flowers, however. Key articles of the new law have been vetoed by the executive.

President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) vetoed the article that saw the use of the Fust to bring the internet to all public schools in the country by 2024.

This is one of the most important tasks we have as a society. It makes no sense that public schools in Brazil should remain poorly connected in 2020.

Strengthening the infrastructure that arrives in public schools (and consequently in their entire environment) is a development factor and a prerequisite for a new type of education that is more inclusive and can teach key skills such as programming and design.

The false veto by another executive was to prevent telecommunications companies from reducing the amount caused by Fust by up to 50% of the annual direct investment in approved projects.
by the fund management board.

The experience of the past 20 years is very clear: it is better to allow these investments to be paid out directly than to force them to stop at the “widow’s pocket” without guaranteeing that they will never go.

Another legislative advance last week was Law 14.108, which promotes the so-called Internet of Things (or IoT, as it is also known) in Brazil.

By 2025, the law exempted several machine to machine (M2M) communication devices from fees, designed for a world where there were few devices that could connect to the internet.
Today there are billions of devices connecting to the network.

This law complied with the recommendation of the National Plan for the Internet of Things, in which I participated with a multidisciplinary team of specialists.

These changes are important, but they do not exhaust the gigantic task the country faces of generating and developing technology.

It is worth repeating: we must learn to convert knowledge into wealth.

Brazil now knows how to convert natural resources into economic value. It’s not enough. Connectivity is the prerequisite for converting knowledge into value and development.

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