Brazilian government concludes global 5G tour

The delegation led by the Communications minister met heads of tech giants and authorities in Europe and Asia.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

The Brazilian government concluded a global tour focused on 5G technologies ahead of the country's auction for the fifth generation spectrum, expected to take place in June 2021.

Led by Communications minister Fabio Faria, the Brazilian delegation included ministers from the Federal Court of Auditors and president Jair Bolsonaro's strategic affairs secretary. According to the government, the trip was intended as a means to learn more about the 5G technologies in development at the main global hubs and speed up the proceedings around the upcoming auction. During the visit, the Brazilian authorities also saw demonstrations of 6G technology, which is currently being trialled.

The ministerial tour started in Sweden, where the Brazilian authorities met Marcus Wallenberg, whose family's business empire includes holdings in Ericsson and AstraZeneca. The next stop of the European leg of the tour was Finland, where Faria's delegation met Nokia chief executive Pekka Lundmark as well as senior officials at the Finnish government.

Over in Asia, the Brazilian government officials met authorities and representatives of technology firms NEC and Fujitsu in Japan. The tour concluded yesterday (11) in China, where Faria and the other Brazilian officials visited Huawei's Galileo 5G center, as well as the company's cybersecurity lab. The delegation had planned to visit South Korea, however that part of the tour was cancelled.

According to Faria, the Brazilian government wants to adopt "5G for real": "We want to adopt standalone 5G so that we can take advantage of all the technology it can provide for [Brazil's] development. Non-standalone 5G is comparable to 4G plus", he said.

The ministerial tour follows a series of guidelines and obligations for telcos regarding the upcoming 5G auction, released late January by the federal government. Among the requirements is a private network exclusive for government use, to be built by the successful bidders.

This particular demand is seen as a way Bolsonaro's aides have found to work around the president's stance regarding Huawei's operations in Brazil. However, the demands are getting considerable pushback from operators, since the government's exclusive structure would not only represent significant additional spend, but would  be run by state-owned telecommunications company Telebras, something the private sector firms find it hard to justify.

Before starting his global tour, Faria issued a threat, that the government could raise the prices of the auction if the telcos fail to comply with the demands for the private network.

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