Viasat and Telebras bring high-speed internet to approximately 900,000 students through the Brazilian e-Government initiative, GESAC
(6 May 2019 - Viasat) Telecomunicações Brasileiras, Telebras, a Brazilian state-owned telecommunications services provider, and Viasat announced today that approximately 900,000 students in nearly 3,000 public schools and hundreds of additional sites across Brazil have already received access to high-speed internet through the Geostationary Satellite of Defense and Strategic Communications (SGDC-1), under the initiative of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC) through the Brazilian e-government initiative "Governo Eletrônico - Serviço de Atendimento ao Cidadão (GESAC)."
Hundreds of additional sites have also benefited, such as border patrol posts from the Armed Forces, public health units and indigenous villages.
In this partnership, Telebras is responsible for the management, commercialization and operation of the SGDC-1 satellite, while Viasat provides its terrestrial network equipment and satellite services widely used in the international market. Jointly the companies are focused on maximizing the use of the SGDC-1 satellite's capacity to bring high-speed broadband services to communities where internet service has historically been unavailable.
Most of the localities served are in the North and Northeast of the country, with a priority focus on remote and difficult to reach communities — some with no telephone signal or only basic internet infrastructure.
According to the president of Telebras, Waldemar Gonçalves, the viability of the SGDC-1 project, through the partnership, will strengthen Telebras as a strategic company of the Government and will improve the lives of millions of Brazilians who are currently disconnected. "The SGDC-1 is a state project that, besides providing technological development to Brazil, significantly bolsters security to strategic communications, reinforcing national sovereignty."
By the end of the year, Telebras and Viasat hope to connect more than 8,000 schools and 400 healthcare facilities across the country, initially prioritizing states with the most minimal broadband internet infrastructure. Overall, GESAC's public policy foresees around 15,000 points installed before the end of this year.
Help in Pacaraima and Brumadinho
In October 2018, the Brazilian Court of Accounts (TCU) found the partnership between Telebras and Viasat legal, which allowed the installation of the terrestrial antennas and infrastructure, ensuring the SGDC-1 satellite could operate. Availability of the satellite has been critical in the recent past few months — especially in humanitarian and emergency situations. For example: in Pacaraima and Brumadinho.
Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima and located on the border with Venezuela, was the first city to receive access to satellite internet under the GESAC program. The system was installed in March 2018, serving border posts of the Armed Forces, health units and indigenous villages, as well as public schools connecting thousands of students. The region has faced a humanitarian crisis, receiving thousands of Venezuelan refugees seeking shelter in Brazil. "It was one of the first places to be considered for satellite service under the GESAC initiative, because it was undergoing an emergency situation in a difficult to reach location. Satellite internet was the most viable solution in terms of cost, installation speed and signal quality," said Lisa Scalpone, vice president and general manager, Viasat Brazil.
Another example of SGDC-1's importance was the provision of critical communications services during the Brumadinho tragedy, in January 2019, in which a dam from Vale broke and hit the region. Immediately, the Telebras-Viasat partnership was able to quickly install a satellite communication system to assist the rescue teams in operation and facilitate contact with hospitals and communication between relatives of the victims. In less than one week, the Telebras-Viasat team installed 22 communications services antennas, with speeds of up to 20 Mbps each. The service was offered free of charge to the Central Operations Command, the Federal and Military Police of Minas Gerais, the Air Force, Fire Brigade, Civil Defense, the Israeli military in support of field operations, the service of registration of families in need and the community-at-large in the region. Total voice and data traffic by the Telebras satellite exceeded 300 GB, which proved the need for such solutions in times of emergency.
Telebras is a mixed-capital and publicly traded company, linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC). It is today identified as the telecommunications arm of the State in the execution of policies for the sector and in the strategic guarantee of a private and secure network for the traffic of public administration information. The SGDC project and the more than 26,000 kilometers of the terrestrial fiber optic network form the most modern and comprehensive telecommunications network in Brazil, offering integrated solutions throughout the country.
Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. For more than 30 years, Viasat has helped shape how consumers, businesses, governments and militaries around the world communicate. Today, the Company is developing the ultimate global communications network to power high-quality, secure, affordable, fast connections to impact people's lives anywhere they are—on the ground, in the air or at sea.