Universo Means Access in Brazil

Paulo Rebêlo Wired News January 2001 On the surface, Universo Online appears to be just another Internet service provider failing to turn up a profit. Bad news on the bottom line led to a sober business decision. It followed the steps of many other prominent companies and in November scrapped free Internet access offerings in order to cut losses. But UOL isn’t just any Internet company. It’s actually the “800-pound gorilla” in Brazil, as one analyst called it, that probably can’t be put down. So even though it began charging for access — and even though there are still free ISPs holding on to dear life in the country — UOL continues to be Brazil’s market leader. “They dominate the market in dialup subscribers and in terms of traffic online to an extent that no single player can match in any other market — even in the United States,” Jupiter Communications analyst Lucas Graves said. “Their biggest advantage is they are truly early arrivals (in Brazil). They’ve been in the market for five years.” “And they are owned by two of the biggest companies (Folha de São Paulo and Grupo Abril). It’s given them money and given them access to

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Brazil May Slash Computer Taxes

Paulo Rebêlo Wired News January 2001 In an attempt to bridge the country’s digital divide, the Brazilian Congress last week approved a bill that would ease the tax burden of technology companies so they could sell their products at a lower cost. Backers of the bill say more people could afford to buy the technology, thus accelerating the drive to modernize the country. In addition, technology companies must donate 5 percent of their profits to public universities. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has until Jan. 20 to sign into law “A Lei Informatica” — the “Computer Law” — which gives computer hardware, software and cell phone manufacturers a 95 percent discount on the industrialized products (IPI) tax to produce their goods. “Without the IPI exemption, the industry will have to incorporate the tax to the product’s final price, which would imply a higher cost to consumers,” said Carlos Salgado, a director at Compaq in Brazil. However, not all Brazilians praised the Congress’ action. Officials in the northern Amazonas region reportedly have plans to take São Paulo to the Supreme Court out of fear that the new law would lure away Amazonas’ technology businesses. The Amazonas state is the home of the

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Brazil Awaits Standard for DTV

Paulo Rebêlo Wired News January 2001 Considering Brazil has the world’s sixth largest television audience, it wasn’t surprising the Brazilian government mentioned the medium’s 50th anniversary on its homepage. “Remove TV from Brazil and Brazil disappears,” journalist Eugenio Bucci says on Brazil’s official website. But what kind of TV they’re getting has been a sore spot for those hoping the digital revolution would have conquered Brazil by now. While DTVs are slowly but surely making their way into living rooms in the United States, Europe and Japan, it will take years before Brazilians can even purchase them in stores. The problem is there is no standard in Brazil to transmit and receive digital signals. And coming up with one has proven troublesome. Transmitting signals through cable is not an option because most Brazilians cannot afford to order cable services. National cable companies aren’t even turning up profits. Most countries have conducted tests and picked the transmission standard that best suits their broadcasting infrastructure. But Brazil can’t afford to roll out DTV on its own, so it must team up with other countries for support –- which means adopting standards not necessarily compatible with its own infrastructure. The National Association of

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Spanish Pesetas Flow Into Brazil

Paulo Rebêlo Wired News January 2001 When the Spanish bank Santander bought the debt-ridden, state-owned Banespa Bank in São Paulo, it was another indicator the Spaniards were re-conquering the New World. Only this time, they’re buying it. In the last few years the Brazilian economy has fattened up with investments –- and renewed interest –- from Spanish companies. Spain is now the second-largest foreign investor in Brazil after the United States. Though Spanish companies invest almost $4 billion less than U.S. companies, their investments are 20 times more than they were in 1995. Spanish companies invested $20.4 billion this year in Brazilian ventures while U.S. investments totaled $23.9 billion, according to the Spanish Council of Commerce in Brazil. Still, Spain is way ahead of Holland, which is in third place with investments totaling $8.8 billion. France is next on the list with $7.8 billion and Portugal at $7 billion. The Spanish invested only $251 million in 1995. These Spanish companies, which have popped up in every sector in Brazil, see room for growth, whereas their home country is witnessing “shakeouts” such as those occurring in the U.S. dot-com world. Santander bought Banespa for $4 billion and became the fourth largest

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