Brazil had the preconditions for the development of a national manufacturing capability in wireless phones. The weak performance of state-run phone system created pent up demand for wireless telecommunications. Pro-active government policies helped to build a research and development capacity, including a successful switching technology. However, incoherence in policies led to eventual failure of efforts to create national production. Brazil is now a maquila manufacturer, largely involved in labour-intensive assembly operations for foreign multinationals with few local development linkages. Brazil's experience provides a cautionary tale for the importance of consistent policies, for locating the appropriate relationship between public and private sectors in consonance with opportunities provided by technological and market cycles.