Abomination of Desolation.

Carlos Eduardo Rebello crebello at SPAMantares.com.br
Mon Dec 6 14:04:50 MST 1999

> Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 21:36:59 -0500
> From: "Jose G. Perez" <jgperez at freepcmail.com>
> Subject: Re: Abomination of Desolation [put in a place where it  shouldn't be].
> I'm sure Telefonica, which is an extremely rapacious telephone monopoly, has
> structured their charges and so on in Brazil so as to maximize its profits.
> Part of what is going on is the transfer of capital costs, which Telephone
> companies used to bear in the form of laying in copper lines, to subscribers
> in the form of phones which they must buy.

Absolutely. However, there is the additional problem in Brazil that
essential parts of the much smaller physical structure is *not* being
installed. This last Saturday, I travelled from Rio de Janeiro (code
area 21) to the mountain resort of Petropolis (code area 24),through a
modern and well -travelled 4-lane road, and observed that, when you
reach the highest slopes of the Coastal Atlantic Mountain chain and
begin to descend northwards into the Brazilian Central Plateau, there is
an enormous "grey zone" where a celullar phone simply doesn't function.
I assume that is due simply to lack of antennas alongside the road. In
other words, given the chronical economic instability, Telefonica wants
to make the biggest possible profit out of the already existing physical
infrastructure, in order to claim a profit even when conditions force it
in the future to lose the Brazilian market. Also, there is the permanent
problem of proifit made in 3rd. World branches being prompltly sent
-through all kinds of legal loopholes - to headquarters, mostly through
resources to ficticious purchases of services abroad. Put into a
nutshell, fear of possible economic instability makes the foreign
investores not to reinvest, therefore *creating*- through adverse
side-effects in exchange rates, for instance- the very economic
instability from which they want to defend themselves...

I would like also to add that, given to the enormous physical structure
already put in place - mostly by state-owned firms at the time of the
military dictatorship - the "fixed" telephone service in Brazil is still
a lot cheaper than cell phones. And do not forget that having a
telephone number in the directory in Brazil is an important sign of
social insertion, given the fact that telephones lines are supposed not
to spread into illegal urbane settlements - that is, shantytowns created
out of squatters' "invasions". The spreading of the telephone service to
these areas is a tacit admission of the permanent character of such
settlements. Threfore, we have here the *fixed* telephone as a tool of
political and social enpowement, something that should not be

Carlos Rebello

 However, if they were laying in
> copper, Telefónica would also be doing it in such a way as to be raping the
> population just as much as they are now. So abstracting from that, the
> decision to promote an all or mostly-cellular network is rational, and don't
> be too surprised if in a few years you have the emergence of "cellular"
> phones which really aren't mobile at all, but can only be used in the one,
> two or three block area they're configured for. The "really cheap" phone
> service will be this, the equivalent of a cordless phone, except that the
> "base station" (receiving unit) for dozens of these phones have been
> gathered together in ONE place so as not to have to run and maintain copper
> wires to each and within each individual home.
> José
> - -----Original Message-----
> From: Carlos Eduardo Rebello <crebello at antares.com.br>
> To: marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>
> Cc: lnp3 at panix.com <lnp3 at panix.com>
> Date: Sunday, December 05, 1999 11:07 AM
> Subject: Re: Abomination of Desolation [put in a place where it shouldn't
> be].
> >Louis Proyect wrote:
> >
> >> Carrying the Flag For Free Trade;  Brazil Still Embraces Globalization
> >>
> >> SAO PAULO, Brazil, Dec. 1
> >>
> >> Acquiring a telephone was a distant dream for Rene Vieira da Conceicao
> >> Muniz, a maid in a small town in southeast Brazil. The government's
> >> inefficient telecommunications monopoly made telephone lines a luxury of
> >> the upper classes, far from the reach of Ms. Muniz, a mother of three
> whose
> >> monthly salary is the equivalent of $57.
> >>
> >> But the privatization last year of Brazil's phone system, part of a much
> >> wider opening of the nation's economy to foreign investment, trade and
> >> competition from abroad, has changed the situation. Two months ago,
> >> Telefonica, the Spanish telecommunications company that bought the local
> >> telephone operation in Ms. Muniz's region, began an installment plan for
> >> low-income clients to buy cellular phones over several months.
> >
> >This, for me, fixes the question. The recent expansion in the supply of
> >phones in Brazil was mostly in celular phones, which do not require
> >heavy previous investment in physical structure (and when such
> >investments were made, they were mostly financed by the state-owned
> >National Bank for Economic and Social Development). Therefore, you have
> >people with pauper-level incomes using a relatively expensive telephonic
> >tool - that normally would be reserved for urgent calls or for people
> >with specific needs - for everyday needs, which means that the
> >lowest-income users are paying the highest prices avaliable for having
> >access to the telephonic service. Also, mostly cellular phones sold to
> >these new customers are "pre-paid", i.e, there is no bill to be paid,
> >only a card which a fixed number of telephonic pulses sold at the
> >highest fee in the market (As opposed to, say, my personal case and of
> >other customers who have chosen not to have "pre-paid" cell phones; I
> >pay a fixed monthly rent for having access to the cell telephone
> >service, irrespective of actual use of the said phone, plus a variable
> >fee for actual use, but the pricing of the pulses is such that, the more
> >I use the phone, the lesser I pay for the single pulse). In fact, what
> >is being sold is an expensive service at extortionate prices, and
> >notoriously unreliable to boot (The American co. ATL, which competes
> >with the Spanish Telefónica in Rio de Janeiro in the cellular phone
> >market - the fixed phone service being offered by a Brazilian group- had
> >its acronym translated as *Alguém Tentando Ligar* - "someone trying to
> >make the phone work"
> >
> >Carlos Rebello
> >

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