Revisiting Brazilian operator, Vivo following the complete transformation of its network

In 2006, we reported on Vivo´s collaboration with Ericsson to introduce a GSM overlay of Vivo´s network in preparation for 3G. Fast forward to today and Vivo’s leadership in the market continues to grow.

Telecom operators in Brazil are in a unique position. As a key emerging market and Latin America's leading investment destination, Brazil has no restrictions on foreign telecoms capital and competition is positively encouraged by the government. This produces an extremely aggressive environment in which the four main operators are closely balanced and success is determined through quick reaction to customer demands.

Fast Progress

Brazil holds almost one third of all mobile users in Latin America and the market is still growing rapidly; Vivo has the highest market share at 35 percent. Working closely with Ericsson to maintain and expand on this position, Vivo deployed a GSM overlay of its network across the country to deliver voice services. The solution increased competitiveness and provided high quality network coverage and huge capacity. It also prepared Vivo for the introduction of 3G/WCDMA.

Two years later, Vivo and Ericsson rolled out a nationwide WCDMA/HSPA network which has enabled Vivo to offer mobile broadband and multimedia services. The 3G project included a mobile backhaul solution with MINI-LINK, SDH Long Haul radios and opto solutions as well as the Ericsson Multi Activation System (EMA). As a result Vivo has become the first mobile operator in Latin America to have an uplink of up to 5.8Mbps. Vivo also signed a managed services agreement that involved field maintenance of its network as well as network rollout, support services and professional services. As part of the contract Ericsson has a team of solution architects working on Systems Integration within the Vivo offices.

New Places New Prospects

Since the evolution of its network, Vivo has broadened its service offering and tapped into new revenue streams. Subscribers have enjoyed a richer communication and multimedia experience with next-generation mobile broadband services, including high-speed mobile internet, TV and video and music. As part of the 3G license agreement, Vivo committed to providing coverage to a number of cities, including remote areas in the Amazon region. In addition to the strict timeline, the expansive area to be covered and amount of transmission needed, the geography brought with it a number of challenges. André Machado, Commercial Vice-President & KAM, Ericsson explains the difficulties: "This is an unpredictable region where we need to use several types of transportation to transfer equipment and there are extreme weather conditions to deal with every day. This is not an easy project logistically but we have been working very closely with Vivo to ensure its success. Already we have been able to provide mobile telephony services to cities in the area."

The effect of this project for the rural Amazon population is likely to be hugely significant. It is expected that the development will bring financial, educational and health benefits and locals have held celebratory parties on the launch, excited about the possibilities. Leonardo Capdeville, Network Planning & Technology Director, Vivo describes the work carried out to make this happen: "This required a massive planning effort of our activities to make sure the logistics ran like clockwork. If even one small part was missing it could undermine the efforts to transport the team by air, road and river over distances that could take days to cover. From this point of view, Ericsson's expertise and the proximity of the engineering teams guaranteed the success of the project."

Local Meets Global

A key success factor for the project was Ericsson's strong presence in Brazil which meant that it could easily source the right specialists, train them very quickly and meet the aggressive rollout schedules. The local workforce meant that Ericsson could react quickly to Vivo's needs, which in turn has contributed to Vivo being able to quickly meet its own customer demands. Leonardo Capdeville elaborates: "Ericsson has substantial experience in Brazil; it definitely has the best technical staff and partners. With the challenging situation involving technology migration and strong growth, this expertise is fundamental."

Vivo has maintained its leading position in the mobile market with the largest market share and almost 50 million subscribers. In addition, Vivo has been rated as the operator with the best network quality in Brazil, as measured by the officially recognized organization Anatel (Brazilian Telecommunications Regulator Agency). Ericsson and Vivo have faced many challenges together and the relationship endured many demands in order to overcome the difficulties of the project. However, after nearly three years of intensive work, the partnership has evolved and strengthened. The next step for Vivo will be IMS and 4G (LTE) and due to the established relationship and success of the existing Managed Services agreement, Vivo can rely on Ericsson´s support with future challenges.


Customer: Vivo, Brazil

Customer Objective

  • Increase market share
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Future-proof network

Ericsson Solution

  • GSM overlay
  • Network deployment
  • Managed Services
  • Systems Integration
  • Ericsson Multi Activation System (EMA)

Customer Benefits

  • A broader service offering
  • New revenue streams
  • Expanded reach in rural areas.

Real impacts

For people in the Amazon region of Brazil the groundbreaking partnership between Vivo and Ericsson will have profound effects. Covering more than 5 million sq km, the Amazon remains one of the most remote regions on earth. However, through mobile broadband the villages of the Amazon will now enjoy access to e-health and e-education services. Specialist applications will include the implementation of a mobile survey tool that will monitor environmental impacts, diagnose patients, facilitate communication with the communities, and run studies to monitor the life quality index.

Customer profile

Vivo is a joint venture of Portugal Telecom and the Telefonica group for the mobile market in Brazil. Vivo is the foremost mobile operator in the South Hemisphere with the largest market share and around 50 million users. Anatel (Brazilian Telecommunications Regulator Agency) rated Vivo the mobile telecommunication company that provides the highest quality of service. Vivo prides itself on offering a leading portfolio of services and enjoys strong relationships with its customers.

Customer Q&A

Leonardo Capdeville, Network Planning & Technology Director, Vivo speaks about the ongoing relationship between Vivo and Ericsson. What was Vivo's objective when initially partnering with Ericsson? When Vivo decided to develop its GSM network at the beginning of 2006, we chose two suppliers for the access part, with Ericsson responsible for 65 percent of this demand. In the core voice area, Ericsson was selected as the sole supplier.

Have Vivo's goals been achieved?
Yes. The decision to migrate to GSM has made the business more dynamic, helping to fill important gaps such as International Roaming and terminal portfolio. The results have allowed the company to solidify its market leadership and attract investment which subsequently allowed it to launch its 3G network, rapidly achieving leadership in coverage for both technologies.

How important has the close relationship between Vivo and Ericsson been to the success of the project?

Ericsson has been with us from the beginning, when we migrated from CDMA to GSM/WCDMA. This close relationship allowed us to share joint objectives so that challenges could be addressed more clearly and the responses implemented more swiftly.

Download this story