Keeping in Touch in Brazil
Expats living in Brazil can immerse themselves in their adopted home, but still stay closely connected with family and friends back home.
Internet in Brazil
Brazil is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of total users of broadband, but that’s largely a trick of numbers given Brazil’s relatively large population, and broadband penetration lags behind its counterpart countries.
In major cities, high-speed Internet is readily available and fairly reliable. There are a number of broadband access options available for home use, including DSL and cable. Major providers include GVT and NET. Service can be expensive (BRL75-400/month) depending on the download speed you want, but bundling your Internet service with television and/or phone will lower the monthly cost.
Wi-Fi is increasingly available in major cities and tourist destinations as well, with a range of locations from coffee shops to public parks offering free Wi-Fi hot spots. A point of caution: expats should be careful when using expensive electronics such as computers, iPads and smart phones in outdoor locations given the treat of theft.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are accessible, and widely used by Brazilians.
In rural areas of Brazil, however, the infrastructure is less developed. It may be difficult to find service and it will be very expensive. The Brazilian government is funding the development of new technologies to bring broadband to rural areas, but it’s not widely available yet. In many areas, it’s still possible to use your smartphone for data, but in the most remote regions, satellite connectivity is the only option.
Fixed landlines telephones in Brazil
A lot of business still takes place over the phone in Brazil, so businesses and residences typically have fixed phone lines. That said, expats can get away without having one at home if they have a mobile phone. The major providers for fixed and mobile phones are the same: Claro, TIM, Oi and Vivo. Expats might only pay BRL20-35 for a monthly plan, but will pay more if calling long distance frequently. As with Internet, cost can go down with bundled packages.
In order to have a landline, expats will need to show proof of address, an RNE (identification for foreigners residing in Brazil), and a CPF (a Brazilian identification number), and will likely need a local bank account to pay the bill.
Mobile phones in Brazil
As with the rest of Brazil’s infrastructure, the mobile phone industry is struggling to keep up with explosive growth. Cellular coverage ranges from excellent to non-existent. In 2012, the government suspended sales of new plans for three of the major providers for a period of time due to the high volume of customer complaints. The providers and the government continue to invest to improve service.
Mobile phone use in Brazil is high, and all types of mobile phones, from the most basic to the highest-quality smart phone, are available. However, they are very expensive, so expats may want to bring an unlocked phone with them from their home country.
Once in Brazil, expats can choose among a variety of calling plans, including pay-as-you-go models, with any of the major providers: Claro, TIM, Oi and Vivo. Plans can include calling, texting, and/or data, and will range from about BRL50 for the most basic to BRL250 for the most comprehensive. Pre-paid plans will range from as low as BRL0.25 per call for local calls to the same provider, to as much as over BRL2 per minute for long-distance, in-country calls to other providers.
Expats will need a CPF to get a phone or a SIM card.
Other forms of telecommunication in Brazil
As expats everywhere know, VoiP can be a great alternative to other telephone options. Skype is available in Brazil, and expats can use the video calling for free or get a phone number for an annual fee of about BRL120. If expats get phone numbers that are local to their home countries (Skype has numbers available in over a dozen countries), this can be a very inexpensive way to make phone calls to family and friends.
Postal services in Brazil
Brazil has a well-developed postal service, Correios. Post offices are plentiful, and it’s possible to mail letters and packages quite easily. The service is generally reliable, although it can be slow.
Receiving packages can present some challenges for expats. Brazil has very high import taxes, and packages sent to Brazil from abroad may be subject to fees of multiple times the value of the contents depending on what they are. Any package stopped by customs will also take longer to arrive than expected.
Media and news in Brazil
International and local news sources are widely accessible in Brazil. Online sources, of course, can be reached from almost anywhere. In cities, newsstands will sell a range of Brazilian newspapers and magazines, and larger stands and bookstores will have foreign titles available as well - for a substantial mark up over the original cover price, of course.