Brazil signs contracts with operators ahead of 5G rollout

Ten companies have been authorized to build the networks following the auction of the fifth generation spectrum.

The Brazilian government has signed contracts that authorize operators to start building 5G networks following the country's auction of the fifth generation spectrum in November.

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President Jair Bolsonaro provided the service authorizations to the group of 10 companies that successfully bid for the 700MHz, 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz frequency bands in national and regional blocks.

The green light to companies kicks off the practical work around the implementation, which is supported by the companies' pledge to invest 42 billion reais ($7.5 billion) to introduce the technology across the country.

At the ceremony that took place on Tuesday (7), Bolsonaro's 20-minute speech was mainly focused on aspects of the current administration that are unrelated to the new technology -- such as his opposition to requiring evidence of COVID-19 vaccination from tourists entering Brazil.

Specifically, in relation to the move towards the fifth generation technology standard for mobile broadband, the president was brief: "5G is fantastic. All capitals will have it by early next year; this is a leap for Brazil communications, and for the Internet of Things", he said at the event.

With the contracts signed, a working group composed by telecommunications agency Anatel, telecom operators and TV stations will deal with the activities around clearing the main slice of the spectrum, currently used for satellite dish reception systems.

Under the Monitoring Group for the Implementation of Solutions for Interference Problems, which starts its activities tomorrow (10), the main goal is to free up the band between 3,625 to 3,700GHz, so that it can be used by operators and enable them to define the timescales around the launch of commercial 5G offerings.

Claro, Vivo and TIM, Brazil's three national mobile operators, secured the three lots available for the 3.5GHz band and are expected to spend 1.1 billion reais ($200 million) collectively in the implementation.

Brazil's 5G auction included a series of specific obligations for the winners of the 3.5GHz frequency, including the expansion of the fiber optic cable network in the riverbeds of the North region, including the Amazon, as well as connecting schools and federal highways, and structuring the private 5G communication network for the federal public administration, with more robust security protocols and encryption.

5G will bring 169 billion reais ($30 billion) to the Brazilian economy over the next 20 years, according to Anatel estimates.

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