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With partner Veloso Net, connecting isolated communities in Amazonas, Brazil

(Jan. 2024) Business woman Juliane Costa has seen her family's life change in the last year. "Today we are no longer isolated from the world, we can access the internet from anywhere in the community," she says. "My kids study and do research online and I get to contact more customers, and sell more."

Costa is one of about 13 thousand inhabitants of Santa Rita do Weil, district of the municipality of São Paulo de Olivença, in the Alto Solimões, Amazonas, Brazil. The village is among 37 riverside communities and 19 municipalities in the region that received 4G and 5G broadband in 2022 and 2023. 

The short documentary The Path shows how Rodrigo Hiroyuki Ito, a young Huawei network engineer, worked on providing connectivity to isolated communities in Amazonas. 

Since 2021, Huawei and the local carrier Veloso Net have been expanding coverage in the region. According to IBGE data, 28 million Brazilians still do not have internet at home.  Currently, 30% of residents in the northern Amazon area have 4G connectivity and major cities in the state enjoy comprehensive coverage. “Huawei worked with Veloso Net to build networks in the state of Amazonas, reaching over 90 cities, transforming lives and boosting the local economy,” says Atilio Rulli, vice president of public affairs at Huawei in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Veloso Net partnered with Huawei to install broadband networks in communities and cities located along the Solimões River, which runs 1,700 kilometers from Tabatinga, a city near the border with Colombia, to Manaus, capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The regional carrier plans to install 71 new transmission sites by the end of summer 2024. The goal is to serve mainly riverine communities along the 1700 kilometers of the course of the Solimões River – from Tabatinga, on the border with Colombia, to Manaus.

Connectivity will boost access to opportunities in Amazonas. This is something the region needs. 

Rodrigo Ito, an engineer from the Huawei’s São Paulo office, visited the region to work on the project this year. The largest state by area in Brazil, the Amazonas covers over 1.5 million square kilometers but has only 3.5 million inhabitants. The entire state is covered by the rainforest and Rio Solimões is one of the largest waterways in Brazil. Lack of coverage has traditionally hampered economic development. 

“I want to be part of the evolution,” Ito says, referring to the efforts to bring connectivity to the region. 

One of the new 4G base stations towers over a community

Expanded coverage paves the way for digital inclusion and economic development. In Tefé, 500 kilometers from Manaus, capital of Amazonas, and 2,700 kilometers from Brasilia, capital of the country, local resident Juranete Alves celebrated the arrival of 4G connectivity the Prainaha community.

“For us here inland, in this jungle, before 2022, what we had here was only one pay phone for almost 400 households. It was difficult,” she recalls. 

Anilton Tuchaua, Leader  of the middle Amazonian Kokama Tribe, notes: “With the network, we can not only communicate with authorities, as well as here within community. It’s very important for our students, so they can study with people outside.”

The metropolis of Sao Paolo is a world away from Amazonas. But with 4G, communications have become instant. 

The impact of broadband on lives in these communities is transformative – for local businesses, education and people's health. In Caiambé, Tefé district (AM), the approximately three thousand residents today have online medical care. In particular, Veloso says, ambulances that serve the region can be summoned more easily.