Cell phone question mark at World Cup stadiums

AFP| Last Updated: May 21, 2014, 21:03 PM IST

Sao Paulo: At least two of Brazil`s 12 World Cup host stadiums will not be able to provide fans the cell-phone and Internet coverage that organizers had promised, telecoms companies revealed.

The executive director of the industry`s umbrella group, Sinditelebrasil, told senate committee hearings Tuesday that "there will be some problems" finishing communications infrastructure for Sao Paulo`s Corinthians Arena, which will host the opening match on June 12, and Curitiba`s Baixada Arena, which will host four matches.

"We received these projects and the rooms where the equipment is supposed to be installed less than 60 days in advance, when we need 120 to 150 days to carry out the work," said Sinditelebrasil`s Eduardo Levy, quoted by newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.

The chief of telecoms firm Vivo, Antonio Carlos Valente, told senators the stadiums in Manaus and Porto Alegre could also face communications problems because of delays finishing temporary structures to house transmission equipment.

"In Sao Paulo and Curitiba we won`t have time to perform all our tests," he said.

Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo said organizers should have invested more in wi-fi networks to back up cell-phone communications.

"Unfortunately, in six stadiums there won`t be any wi-fi reinforcement of the signal, which would help absorb data use by fans. But that won`t happen because the stadium administrators refused," he said.

"On the opening day of the World Cup, all the basics will be working, but with shortfalls. I think it would be better if there were wi-fi."

He said he could not force private stadium administrators to install telecoms equipment, and that the government was in the process of fulfilling its only communications obligation -- to lay fiber-optic cable for TV broadcasts.

The mobile network was overloaded when Sao Paulo`s stadium held its first major test event Sunday, and cell-phone communications were nearly impossible both during and after the match.

Wi-fi was however working inside the stadium.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has criticized organizers for leaving final work on the still-incomplete stadium until the "last minute."

He has also urged organizers to accelerate work on the temporary structures outside the stadiums used for telecoms equipment, security personnel and the media.