Ookla, the world leader in broadband and mobile internet testing platforms and analysis, has released a new market report measuring and evaluating the current state of Brazil’s internet speeds. While showing the country is headed in the right direction, the study is difficult reading for citizens of the world’s fifth-most populated nation and one of the top 10 global economies.

Brazil currently ranks 65th in the world for broadband download speeds, posting an average of 26.64 megabits per second (Mbps) and placing the country in between India and Macedonia. For mobile internet—the connection of choice for millions of Brazilians who do not have broadband—the numbers are even worse. Its mean download speeds of 18.50 Mbps make Brazil 71st in the world for mobile internet.

The data for the study is gathered by way of individual results from users of Speedtest, Ookla’s flagship internet analysis tool. This recent study, measured over the second and third quarter of 2018 in Brazil, comprises an astonishing 1.67 billion data points for broadband internet and 174.5 million for mobile.

Brazil mobile speed score nationwide internet

Not everything is bad news

The results do show that Brazil is making steady improvements, however. In terms of broadband download speed, the country has jumped ten places in the rankings since this time last year, posting gradual growth over the last 12 months. Much of these improvements are due to heavy investment from competitors in both the mobile and broadband sectors.

Providers Vivo and TIM are now able to provide powerful LTE-Advanced network features to their clients, allowing them to compete with outright mobile internet leader Claro. Lagging behind, Oi and Nextel are also pushing to launch their own LTE-A platforms, giving the consumer a wide range of options for high-speed mobile internet.

In the broadband sphere, the investment has come once again from TIM and Vivo, who are focusing on expanding their offer of super-fast fiber-to-the-home service in Brazilian cities, pushing up the national average speeds. However, this strategy could lead to rural areas, with traditionally slower internet speeds, being overlooked and left even further behind urban Brazil.

Brazil fixed speed score nationwide

Geography is a challenge

It would be easy to justify Brazil’s underperformance in internet speeds to the sheer size of the country. Brazil is over 8.5 million square kilometers and data travels slower when going longer distances. A quick look at the countries with the fastest download speeds—Singapore and Iceland, 722.5 and 103,000 sq km, respectively—shows us that smaller countries are better suited to faster speeds.

However, size is not everything. The city proper of São Paulo, home of the country’s fastest broadband internet and comparable in size to two Singapores, has an average download speed of 36.54 Mbps against Singapore’s 181.47 Mbps. If it were its own country the city of São Paulo would still only be ranked 50th in the world on broadband download speeds.


Brazilian internet: speeding up, but still lagging


The Ookla study allows us to see some intriguing discrepancies in internet speeds across the country. São Paulo, the Federal District and Rio de Janeiro are the states with the fastest broadband internet, with average speeds between 30 and 25 Mbps. Meanwhile, up in the northern state of Amapá, the mean speed is only 6.82 Mbps, which is comparable to the national average of Nicaragua, home of the world’s 9th slowest internet.

However, a curious outlier is the northern state of Acre. While the North is home to the slowest internet speeds in Brazil, Acre appears as the fourth-fastest for broadband in the country, hot on the tail of Rio de Janeiro.

For mobile internet speeds, the fastest state in Brazil is the Federal District, closely followed by southern state Rio Grande do Sul. The capital city of the latter, Porto Alegre, is home to the fastest mobile internet download speeds anywhere in Brazil. With an average of 24.43 Mbps, it is not too far off the national means of the UK and Uruguay.

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MoneyNov 21, 2018

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BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.