DIGITAL INCLUSION : HOW ARE POOR COMMUNITIES USING TECHNOLOGY IN THEIR FAVOR? PART 2

WiFi for everyone

The EMEF Campos Salles is part of the Unified Educational Center (CEU) Professor Arlete Persoli, a complex of almost 48 thousand square meters designed by the architect Ruy Ohtake and that since last year has replaced the old Educational and Cultural Center of Heliópolis. There, along with two other schools (one for technical and another for children’s education), a library and a sports center, there is a square that was contemplated by the WiFi Livre SP program , an initiative of the São Paulo City Government that managed to provide the internet without Free wire in all 96 districts of the capital. In all, there are 120 squares equipped with wireless signal of at least 512 Kbps effective.

According to the official website of the project , each hotspot is capable of serving 50 to 250 simultaneous users depending on the location. The average cost to keep each square in full operation is R $ 6.4 thousand per month; The value of the annual contract with the private companies responsible for implementing and managing the infrastructure of the access points is R $ 9.2 million.

Wifi in the square

We went to check the signal quality in the CEU Professor Arlete Persoli, and, much to our surprise, the hotspot works very well. In addition to covering the entire area of the complex (covering the various buildings that make up the teaching center), the WiFi signal provided a rate of 16 Mbps for download and 9 Mbps for upload, a result far above the minimum of 512 Kbps released by the city . At the time of the test – one Tuesday afternoon – the square was reasonably full, and it was wise to stipulate that at least 50 people were connected to the network simultaneously.

“The WiFi signal provided a rate of 16 Mbps for download and 9 Mbps for upload”

According to a recent study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the number of Brazilian municipalities that offer WiFi networks to its citizens increased by 83.2% in the last year. São Paulo fires at the top of the rankings with a total of 207 prefectures offering such service, followed by Minas Gerais (155) and Rio Grande do Sul (116). Despite this, only the Federal District provides wireless internet in 100% of its territory – other federal units cover at most 46.7% of their land.

While these figures show an impressive jump over the past years, there is still a long way for Brazil to have a high-quality public wireless telecommunications infrastructure – only 1,457 municipalities out of a total of 5,570 across the country are properly connected. The expectation is that, with the help of incentives such as the Digital Cities program, this scenario will change with greater agility from 2016.

Click on the image to see the map of the squares WiFi Free SP:

Map squaresOne of the main partners of the Brazilian government in this regard is Ruckus Wireless , a multinational company specialized in providing superior performance WiFi solutions. According to the company, there is a global trend in creating smart cities that use wireless networks to improve municipal operations, boost local economic development, and provide significant improvements in areas such as education, health, transportation, and security.

“The government for us is very important because it represents 50% of the market,” says Andre Queiroz, Ruckus sales director for Latin America, in an interview with TecMundo . ” Free WiFi here in São Paulo, for example, has a huge impact on the population. They are investments with a relatively low value and with very satisfactory results “, explains the executive. The corporation has already taken care of the infrastructure of several smart cities around Brazil, such as Fortaleza, Recife, Petrópolis, Belém and Salvador.

BEHIND THE CURTAINS

Embora a Ruckus não seja um nome conhecido no Brasil até mesmo entre os apaixonados por tecnologia, a companhia detém uma parcela enorme do mercado de comunicação sem fio em nosso país. Sendo considerada uma das principais fornecedoras de soluções WiFi do mundo, a marca também trabalha com redes de hotelaria, universidades, estádios e comércio em geral. “Dois shoppings aqui de São Paulo estão testando uma solução extremamente inovadora. O estabelecimento vai poder saber por onde o cliente entrou, por onde saiu, quanto tempo ficou parado na frente de uma loja, enfim, saber exatamente quem o consumidor é, para poder fazer ações específicas de acordo com esse perfil”, revela Andre.

Ruckus solutions stand out from the competition for the special wireless signal handling. Through special antennas, the network is targeted specifically to the connected devices, rather than simply being spread throughout the environment. This reduces interference in the connection and delivers more power to the end user. This is the famous concept of beamforming, which in recent years has also been used in residential routers.

“People need connectivity to work and to live,” says Andre. The Ruckus believes that WiFi can and must coexist with mobile networks, including being an effective way to relieve 3G and 4G bands – both the company also works alongside the major telephone operators in Brazil who wish to offer points of internet wireless As a complementary service to its customers.

“95% of the traffic of Brazilian smartphones is wireless internet , not mobile networks”

“There are places that the operator can not cover right with its antennas,” says the executive. “When you’re stopped, whether at home, at the office, at the movies, at the restaurant or at the park, it’s best to use WiFi, if available. Only in moments of locomotion, as in traffic, 4G or 3G become the best option, “he explains. This line of reasoning seems to be correct, especially if we analyze a recent study made by the institute Informate – 95% of the traffic of Brazilian smartphones are wireless internet , not mobile networks.

This makes it clear that the future lies in mobile devices, increasingly accessible and with options for all social classes . However, a cell phone with no connection to the web is useless. And that is why the City of São Paulo is willing to expand coverage of the WiFi Free program in 2016 and even opened a public consultation so that Paulistas themselves can suggest the next locations that should receive free hotspots in the coming months.


Facebook : Community like this

The private sector really seems to be the way to boost projects of digital inclusion . In March of this year, Facebookinaugurated its first Laboratory of Innovation in the heart of Heliópolis. For those who are not used to walking in the community , it is a bit tricky to get there. After facing alleys and narrow streets – so tiny that two cars can not cross at the same time -, being careful not to slip on the wet ground with the summer rain, the TecMundo journalist finally reached number 128 on Jovens do Sol Street.

Until the intervention of Mark Zuckerberg’s company, the site was nothing more than the regional Child and Adolescent Center (CCA); Now, the logo of the social network decorates the colorful facade of the building. Passing through a metal door, the visitor soon faces a large room equipped with 15 brand-new notebooks. In the morning, the lab offers courses and workshops that encourage local entrepreneurs to use digital tools to leverage their business; In the afternoon, the use of computers and the internet is free .

Facebook lab

By the time of the visit – approximately 5pm – and because of the rainy weather, TecMundo found a relatively empty laboratory, inhabited only by the multipliers (a group of young people trained by Facebook to manage the site). Uniformed and with smiles on the faces, they are helpful and entertained with the photos of the recent actions of the social network in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. On one of the walls, a giant white board invites the visitor to write some errands. It is the famous “The Facebook Wall”, something always present in the offices of the company.

All the workshops offered by the Innovation Lab are free, only if the interested party makes the registration in advance; After all, there are only 15 places per class. The calendar is disseminated through the internet – in a page dedicated to the project – and in person, with the distribution of information leaflets in the residents’ homes. To get out of the role and become reality, the program was supported by the Union of Nuclei, Residents Associations of Heliopolis and Region (UNAS), an NGO dedicated to defending the interests of the regional population.

IN RIO LANDS

In November 2015, Facebook announced the expansion of the Facebook program in the Community , in partnership with the Unified Central of Favela s (CUFA) and Estácio de Sá University, to also serve the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Between December of that year and July of 2016, a “Facekombi” – traveling laboratory mounted in a van – will pass through several regions of the Marvelous City, offering courses similar to those of Heliópolis.

The idea is to train local entrepreneurs in time for the 2016 Olympics, which should generate many business opportunities for the Rio commerce. In all, there will be ten communities served: Morro do Dendê, Chapadão, Vila Aliança, Cidade de Deus, Rocinha, Acari, Complexo da Pedreira, Vila Vintém, Vidigal and Complexo do Alemão.

According to information from the social network itself , 90% of the residents of Heliópolis use Facebook – however, the overwhelming majority of local merchants (86%) still do not have a web presence to advertise their products and services. That is precisely why the lab’s educational modules are focused on strategies for page creation, digital marketing and other tools to engage potential consumers.

“90% of Heliopolis residents use Facebook – but the overwhelming majority of local merchants (86%) still do not have a web presence”

Among the “cases of success” highlighted by the company, we can mention the Rap Revolution store . Managed by announcer Mano Zóio (the stage name for Danilo Barreto, 28), the venture sells T-shirts and caps with specific themes for the community’s population . ” Facebook helps me expand my brand,” says Danilo, who since 2013 maintains a socialnetworking page to communicate with customers.

Another entrepreneur who recently discovered how to use the virtual platform to boost sales is Dayse Vilela, 24. His brand of customized diapers, Arte Bebê , was for a long time limited to word of mouth marketing, but achieved notoriety after winning an official representation in the social network . “There are a lot of people getting in touch with me that I do not even know. I believe I will have great results for my business, “he says.


The future is free mobile internet

Believe it or not, there are already projects that are designed to develop a business model that allows free access to certain websites and applications. A good example of this type of program is the 0800 Data , which was devised by Qualcomm and had its first tests in 2012. The concept is simple: the sponsor – which can be a corporation, a trade, a government agency, etc. – partners with mobile operators and allows any individual to access their services online for free, without the navigation spending the franchise of their data plan .

“There are already projects that aim to develop a business model that allows free access to certain sites and applications”

“For the sponsor, the mobile channel is the most efficient. The banks want the user to make transactions through the mobile phone and the government would prefer that I access my information through a mobile device, “says Oren Pinsky, director of New Business at Qualcomm Brazil, in a quick interview with TecMundo . According to the executive, the goal of the 0800 Data is to democratize the use of the mobile internetjust as prepaid telephony plans have democratized voice communication. “We want sponsored data to be so common in the next few years that everyone will be using it,” he says.

Bradesco was the first big company to adopt this business model and became a true success story. By allowing its account holders to use internet banking without spending their data franchises since 2014, the bank was able to double the number of transactions made on mobile devices in less than a year – and this also represented a huge absurd economy in the institution’s coffers, since The cost per transaction in the mobile environment is much lower than in traditional channels (such as branches or ATMs).

Free WiFi

Recently, the Netshoes Group has also joined the 0800 Data , and, from now on, customers of the Netshoes and Zattini virtual stores can browse free mind without worry. “We always strive to make life easier for our consumers and innovation is a great ally for this. In this case, the main impacted should be users of prepaid plans that have more limited access to the data network, “explains the CEO of ecommerce. “Mobile access already represents 46% of our visits.”

Oren tells us that other retailers are already considering adopting this business model, and even some state governments have already openly declared their interest in the data format sponsored. The City of São Paulo, for example, wants to offer some free services of the Poupatempo network. And the operators? “They are seeing this as an opportunity to generate more revenue,” says the executive. “In addition, the 0800 Data makes the individual see more value in the connectivity service. The main target of a program like this is the user of prepaid plans, which does not usually use the internet on the mobile, “he explains.

The Qualcomm also claims that this business model does not violate the principle of net neutrality, defended by regulatory measures such as Marco Civil the Internet . “Carriers assure that the traffic of the 0800 Data has no distinction of non-sponsored traffic. It does not have prioritization, the speed is not different “, defends Oren. “In our view, the project is fully aligned with the principles of net neutrality,” he concludes.

AROUND THE WORLD

The format of sponsored data does not only exist in Brazil – although only here we see four operators together working on a project of the genre. In the United States, for example, AT & T offers since 2014 some content from partner companies that can be browsed without deduction in the user data franchise . In addition, similar models have been tested by Wikipedia (with Wikipedia Zero) and by Google (with Google Free Zone): both can be used free in some developing countries thanks to partnerships with certain mobile providers.

Another similar project that also aims to popularize the mobile internet among those who do not have the financial condition to afford a data plan is Free Basics, created by Facebook in partnerships with a number of technology market companies (such as Nokia, MediaTek, Opera and Qualcomm itself ). Originally known as Internet .org, the program aims to offer basic content and services (such as Wikipedia) to users at no cost through a special application that serves as a web browser.

Today the project offers about 60 services in 19 countries around the globe, and Mark Zuckerberg’s goal is to increase that number by 2016. Unlike the 0800 Data , however, Free Basics is constantly subject to criticism related to the concept of network. In Brazil, even the Brazilian Association for Consumer Protection (PROTESTE) has opposed the business model, claiming that restricted access to the few Facebook partners in this endeavor is an affront to the Civil Internet Framework . Doubts related to the security of system users are also common. Wanted by TecMundo , Facebook declined to comment on the subject.

Free Basics

Regardless of such discussions, there is no doubt that Free Basics – such as the 0800 Data – is a powerful digital inclusion tool , with a strong ability to democratize Internet access through mobile devices. Even restricted, navigation for the services offered by the program is something precious for disadvantaged citizens, such as the residents of the Heliopolis community . Mobile devices have become as popular as computers, and old programs like the classic telecenters are no longer enough to meet demand.

Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that, unfortunately, most of the projects mentioned in this article are from private initiative – the Brazilian government does little to guarantee access to the web by the population as a whole. We can only hope that this scenario will change soon; After all, as we have said, the internet is one of the most important human rights in these modern times.