Internet access is widespread, and Wi-Fi is often available, especially in the big cities. Many hotels have in-room access to Wi-Fi, but some charge $5 to $10 per day for the privilege. In big cities like São Paulo and Rio, 3G access is common, but check with your local provider to find a plan that mitigates the often-steep roaming charges. Switching your device from cellular data to Wi-Fi whenever it is available should save you money.
Be discreet about carrying laptops, smartphones, and other obvious displays of wealth, which can make you a target of thieves. Conceal your laptop in a generic bag and keep it close to you at all times.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. In remote areas you can phone from call centers or sometimes even the post office, but in big cities these call centers don’t exist anymore. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. And then there are mobile phones, which are sometimes more prevalent—particularly in the developing world—than landlines; as expensive as mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.
Because of the recent increase in demand for mobile phones in Brazil, an extra digit has been added to mobile phone numbers to make more numbers available. If calling a mobile phone in the states of São Paulo, Rio, Espírito Santo, Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Pará, and Roraima, make sure to add a 9 in front of the usual eight digits of the number. The rest of the country will be included in this change by the end of 2016.
The country code for Brazil is 55. When dialing a Brazilian number from abroad, dial the international access code of your home country, the Brazilian country code, the two-digit area code (drop the initial 0 if there is one), and the local number.
Public phones are everywhere and are called orelhões (big ears) because of their shape. The phones take phone cards only.
Calling Within Brazil
Local calls can be made most easily from pay phones, which take phone cards only. A bar or restaurant may allow you to use its private phone for a local call if you're a customer.
If you want to call from your hotel, remember long-distance calls within Brazil are expensive, and hotels add a surcharge.
With the privatization of the Brazilian telecommunications network, there's a wide choice of long-distance companies. Hence, to make direct-dial long-distance calls, you must find out which companies serve the area from which you're calling and then get their access codes—the staff at your hotel can help. (Some hotels have already made the choice for you, so you may not need an access code when calling from the hotel itself.) For long-distance calls within Brazil, dial 0 + the access code + the area code and number. To call Rio, for example, dial 0, then 21 (for Embratel, a major long-distance and international provider), then 21 (Rio's area code), and then the number.
Calling Outside Brazil
International calls from Brazil are extremely expensive. Hotels also add a surcharge, increasing this cost even more. Calls can be made from public phone booths with a prepaid phone card. You can also try going to a phone office, although with the rise of mobile phones, very few of these still exist. The staff at your hotel may know whether there is one nearby.
For international calls, dial 00 + 23 (for Intelig, a long-distance company) or 21 (for Embratel, another long-distance company) + the country code + the area code and number. For operator-assisted international calls, dial 00–0111. For international information, dial 00–0333. To make a collect long-distance call (which will cost 40% more than a normal call), dial 9 + the area code and the number.
The country code for United States and Canada is 1.
AT&T and Sprint operators are also accessible from Brazil; get the local access codes before you leave home.
AT&T Direct. 0800/703–6335; www.att.com/esupport/traveler.jsp.
Sprint International Access. 866/866–7509; mysprint.sprint.com.
All pay phones in Brazil take phone cards only. Buy a phone card, a cartão telefônico, at a newsstand, drugstore, or post office. Cards come with a varying number of units (each unit is usually worth a couple of minutes), which will determine the price. Buy a couple of cards if you don't think you'll have the chance again soon. These phone cards can be used for international, local, and long-distance calls within Brazil. Be aware that calling internationally using these cards is extremely expensive and your units will expire pretty quickly. It’s advisable to buy several cards with the maximum number of units (75 minutes). A 20-minute card costs about $1.25, a 50-minute card about $3.25, and a 75-minute about $5.
In big cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro you can buy an international phone card, which is around the same price as the 75-minute local card.
Big cities in Brazil often have 4G Internet available to anyone with a smartphone, although 3G usually works much better and is more readily available. Roaming charges can be extremely high, however, so make sure to check rates with your provider before arriving in Brazil. Your provider may offer international data plans and should be able to provide details on connectivity. It's a good idea to use local Wi-Fi when available and to make international calls with services like Skype, Viber, or WhatsApp.
If you will be making many local calls and will be in the country for a few weeks, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you), and signing up for a pay-as-you-go plan. You'll then have a local number and can make calls at local rates. Be aware that as a non-Brazilian you must show proof of citizenship (such as a passport) to buy a SIM card, which costs around $10. Note that you’ll use up the credit on your SIM card more quickly when calling numbers in a Brazilian state other than the one in which you purchased the card. Many travelers buy a new SIM card in each state they visit. If you plan on visiting rural areas, find out from locals which mobile phone provider works best in the area before buying your SIM card. There are often several available, but one or two providers tend to get better coverage because of tower locations, especially in Amazonas.