Activating a Mobile Number in Brazil With a Passport

Activating a mobile line is always a bit of a hassle. In 2012 I had to activate using my mother-in-law’s documents because at that time only Brazilians and legal residents could acquire mobile lines in their name. Earlier this year I could have activated using my passport number, as the legislation has changed in anticipation of the World Cup and Olympics, but did not because my wife planned to continue using the line after my vacation ended. This past Friday I arrived in Brazil on a permanent visa, and since I won’t have Brazilian documents for at least another few weeks, opted to activate a line with the mobile carrier TIM using my passport. It wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

A sim card in Brazil can be activated by simply putting the card into the device, turning it on and either completing the steps in an automated pop-up or else by dialing a certain code and going through the steps. I tried the latter (the first did not come up as an option this time around) but it offered only to take the Brazilian document number (CPF, similar to a social security number in the United States). I then tried making a phone call in order to go through the steps via phone call, but every time I chose “English” and “passport” the call disconnected. I suspect that the customer service reps were seeing what type of call was incoming and disconnecting.

Giving up on it Friday night, I tried again at a TIM retail store in a local mall Saturday evening. They said they couldn’t do anything with the sim card I had with me since we didn’t know the phone number associated with it, so I offered to buy another new one from them. They tried activating two sim cards and both times it failed. Finally they asked if I couldn’t just get someone to loan me a CPF to activate the card. That’s ridiculous. It’s my legal right under existing legislation to activate on a passport, so I told them that wouldn’t do. I left the store still without service.

Returning home, I tried making a call again to get customer service. After my third attempt some brave soul took my call. It took the poor guy 10 minutes, but he finally got the card active. He told me the problem with my card had something to do with the associated phone number not being fully expired for the previous client, but I don’t know. Whatever he did got the line working, and I’m grateful. I hope the call gets reviewed and that anonymous rep receives some benefit for his extra effort, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.

Why did I want service with TIM? The main reason is that most friends and relatives are on TIM, and that provides certain price advantages. There is also the fact that on the Infinity Pré plan, Internet is 50 centavos per day, SMS is 50 centavos per day, and if both are used in the same day the price drops to 75 centavos total. Given that I have a MyTouch Slide 4G and plan to use mostly text and data, this makes the most sense to me.

In any event, I’m glad I have a fully functional mobile line in Brazil. I really do think that the experience could be better for foreigners though. I had a small advantage in already being familiar with mobile service in Brazil as well as current legislation, and due to the fact that I speak fluent Portuguese. Someone arriving for one of the upcoming international events won’t have a very easy time getting their phones active locally, if what happened with me is any indication.

See Also:
My Experience With a Blackberry in Brazil (2012)
My Mobile Experience in Brazil This Year (2013)

Evaluating Brazil

In 1997 I made my first trip to Brazil, and in the following three years I made a handful of additional visits before moving there in 2001 and getting married. Although I stayed that time less than three years, I certainly developed some firm opinions about Brazil’s current situation and it’s potential for the future. Nowadays I’m trying to be more of a “glass-is-half-full” type of guy, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be valid criticism. At the same time, I’m an outsider to Brazil, despite marriage to a Brazilian, having Brazilian children and speaking the national language. It’s best for me to tread with caution.

The following video, in Portuguese, lays out what I consider very accurate evaluations of what hinders Brazil and a nation and its people. In this case, it’s a Brazilian doing the talking, and I’m just nodding my head. For my part, I just want to contribute to making my little corner of Brazil better any way I can.
For previous posts on this topic, in English, check out the links below the video.

On Loving or Hating Brazil – Thoughts on expatriates criticizing Brazil.
What Keeps Brazil Back – The triad of problems I see that limit Brazil.
Will the Giant Be Lulled Back to Sleep? – Factors that could stimulate change in Brazil.

E para quem entende português, veja esta postagem também: Federalismo no Brasil

Property Values & Tourists in Rio’s Pacified Favelas

The following is a solid report from Nadia Sussman and Simon Romero  on changes taking place in some of Rio de Janeiro’s “pacified” favelas. Property values are going up, and people are renting out beds to tourists looking for what might be called an “authentic” experience. Gentrification seems surely to be on the horizon.

Goodbye Pandora

Does anyone else remember “LAUNCHcast”? In the early 2000s when I was last residing in Brazil it was a reliable connection to music that I’d only find on Brazilian radio with great difficulty. It was a useful predecessor to Pandora, and worked along similar lines, allowing users to create personalized stations and influence the type of music that would play based on a rating system. In retrospect, the most remarkable thing to me is the fact that I was able to use it in Brazil, considering international licensing rules. As it is, with my move later this week to Brazil I’ll be saying goodbye to Pandora.

There are other online music streaming services out there, but Pandora is the one I’ve enjoyed for a few years now. I have many stations set up, and for a time when I had an iPhone I paid a monthly subscription fee in order to avoid ads. When I went to Jamaica on a humanitarian expedition a couple of years ago it didn’t work due to the fact that I was no longer in the U.S. Same for my visits to Brazil in the past two years. Of course it can’t play, as music licensing is on a country-by-country basis.

Perhaps someday Pandora will enter the Brazilian market. For now, so long and thanks for all the songs.

Retiring Igneous Quill

Back in early 2006, walking to Newark Penn Station on my way to my second job at a law office in Jersey City, I came up with the name for my new blog. I’d had a couple of blogs before. One was while I was in
Brazil, and it was merely a page on my Tripod website that I updated manually. The other was a short-lived and deeply pessimistic blog I created shortly after arriving in New Jersey in 2005. The name for this new blog that formed after several attempts at combining words I liked was “Igneous Quill.”

Igneous Quill became an important tool in helping me sort through my conflicted feelings about having first left the “mission field” in Brazil and then quitting church ministry altogether after a terrible experience with a congregation in New Mexico. To make matters worse, my father had passed away unexpectedly in January 2005. This all left me feeling very unsure of pretty much everything in my life.

In those days prior to Facebook and Twitter, the “blogosphere” was the place for adults to network online (teens had MySpace). Through my blog I “met” numerous people whose posts challenged and/or inspired me, and who in turn often left encouraging comments on my posts. Although I’ve lost contact with many of those former bloggers, many have become valued Facebook friends.

At one point there were actually four different Igneous Quill blogs, hosted at the .com, .org, .net and .info domains. After a time I consolidated them into one, and then a couple of years ago I made the decision to obtain the “adamgonnerman” domains, renaming Igneous Quill and redirecting links from the old addresses to the new. With my upcoming move to Brazil, I’ve decided it’s time to retire the igneousquill domains. I’m simply going to let my ownership of these domains expire. I can’t justify paying for them in addition to my current namesake domains in light of the expenses living in Brazil will incur. In reality, I’m sure these domains will get snatched up fairly quickly by some shady outfit looking to sell 3rd rate merchandise or grab stray Internet traffic for other reasons. As far as I’m concerned, though, they will have fulfilled their purpose for me.

Lourenço Bustani on Doing Business in Brazil

This talk by Lourenço Bustani, founder of Mandalah, about doing business in Brazil is direct, sharing the hard truth but also showing a bright side. It seems it may have been edited here and there for length, but it certainly isn’t lacking anything noticeable. It could serve as a pep talk for entrepreneurs in this challenging business environment.

See Also:
Book Review: They Don’t Speak Spanish in Brazil