Many people who tour Brazil from other countries discover once they arrive there that their smart phones don’t work. That’s because the Brazilian mobile network is set up a little differently than it is in other countries.
The mobile network is run by an agency called Anantel, which actually is an acronym for National Telecommunications Agency. While some foreign smart phones may work in Brazil, those that aren’t aligned with some Anantel specifications will not.
For example, in the US and some Asian countries, smart phones are compatible with the Code Division Multiple Access network, or the CDMA network, for short. Brazilian smart phones are compatible with the Global System for Mobile network, or GSM network.
Within the GSM, there are four different frequencies that are used by different mobile services:
- 850 MHz
- 900 MHz
- 1800 MHz
- 1900 MHz
Foreign smart phones that work in various frequencies — known as quadriband phones — may work in Brazil.
‘Will My Apps Work?’
Some of the most popular apps used by foreigners don’t work in Brazil. For example, mapping apps that use GPS aren’t generally available in Brazil because they weren’t designed to be used there.
Another difference is that Brazil’s mobile network is 4G and it operates on a frequency band of 2.5 GHz. Most other nation’s 4G networks work on a frequency band of 700 MHz.
To determine ahead of time whether your smart phone is going to work when you tour Brazil, before you leave you will need to check to see if it works with GMS rather than CDMA, whether it is quadriband, and if it will work on a 4G network that uses a 2.5 GHz frequency.
If your smart phone doesn’t meet these criteria, it probably won’t work when you tour Brazil. But you still have a couple of options.
You can buy a new smart phone once you arrive in Brazil. This way, you can be sure that your smart phone will be operable throughout your stay.
A second option is to buy a Brazilian SIM card and install it in your current smart phone, which may be a more practical and less expensive solution.