By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday all mobile numbers in São Paulo starting with “11” should now be dialed with an additional 9 before the regular number (+55) 11-9-XXXX-XXXX. This change increases capacity to a limit of ninety million numbers, from the current 44 million, according to ANATEL (Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações, National Telecoms Agency).

SMS in São Paulo warning of potential cellular problems, Brazil News
Text messages warned cellular users in São Paulo of potential problems during the changeover to the nine-digit system, photo by Ben Tavener/The Rio Times.

Eight-digit numbers will still be accepted for some time, but by mid-August calls will be intercepted with a message reminding users of the change, and by January 2013 the use of nine digits will be mandatory.

Cell phone numbers in the “21” Rio DDD region will also require the addition of a ninth digit in the next two or three years, as the city’s allocation of numbers is running out.

Adeilson Nascimento, Interconnections Director at Anatal, says the most immediate need for additional cellular capacity in Brazil is now in the Rio “21” DDD region, adding: “There’s no way of telling exactly when the numbers will run out, that depends how we administer our resources” but that it is expected in the next two or three years.

Anatel says that although Rio is the most urgent, it is just one Brazilian region that will soon exhaust its allocation of eight-digit cell numbers: the Belo Horizonte (31), Porto Alegre (51) and Recife (81) areas will soon have to follow suit.

Brazil’s biggest mobile operators – TIM, Claro and Oi – were recently punished by a ban on the sale of companies’ SIM cards in various states throughout the country, in an effort to force operators to improve customer satisfaction by providing better service and coverage for cellular customer.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


  1. This is a good news. Now it will be easier for everyone to search by phone number anyone in San Paolo. I think as population grows the grid will be updated to 10 digits.


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