By an OGJ Online Correspondent

RIO de JANIERO, May 31, 2001 — Electric power rationing could cause the collapse of Brazil’s telephone system, warned Arnaldo Tibyrica, a director of the national association of cellular service companies (Acel).

While the government has decreed a 20% reduction in electric consumption, Tibyrica said telephone companies cannot function if the cut is more than 10%. Mobile and fixed line operators are asking to be designated essential services to obtain a lower rationing percentage.

“The 10% we are able to ration would come from power cuts in the administrative areas that have generators and in the power consumption of exchange and control stations that distribute the phone calls,” added Acel director Antonio Ribeiro Santos.

More than 90% of radio base stations that transmit cellular calls only have batteries that are good for 4 hr. The batteries are activated when lights go out and recharged when electric power returns which means an increase in power consumption, explained the Acel director.

Communications Minister Pimenta da Veiga rebuffed the possibility of a collapse in telephone services due to government rationing. He said the telecommunications sector consumes less than 1% of Brazil’s electric power, and it shouldn’t be difficult to cut consumption 20%.Veiga recommended companies increase use of diesel generators.

Telephone companies will make their case before a government crisis committee next week.