Brazilian telecoms regulator confirms 5G auction for November

Operators are expected to start offering the service before year-end in larger cities
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

After several delays, Brazilian telecommunications regulator Anatel has approved the general rules for the country's fifth-generation mobile spectrum auction, which is set to take place on November 4.

Blocks will be auctioned across four frequency bands: 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz over a 20-year period, and the Brazilian government expects to attract approximately 50 billion reais ($9.37 billion) in bids.

Successful bidders will also be required to invest 40 billion reais ($7.5 billion) in infrastructure; requirements also include providing connectivity to highways across the country, as well as thousands of schools countrywide.

According to the rules, to be published in full on Monday, the implementation schedule will see 5G becoming available across Brazilian capitals by July 31, 2022. However, larger cities, including São Paulo, will receive the service before the end of 2021.

Brazilian cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants will see 5G rolled until July 31, 2025, while the deadline for locations with more than 200,000 inhabitants is July 31, 2026. Cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants will have 5G by July 31 2027, and the service will be available in locations with more than 30,000 inhabitants by July 31, 2028.

The announcement of a date for Brazil's 5G auction, the country's largest telecommunications auction in history, follows a series of delays and controversy. Prior to giving its final seal of approval to the notice, Brazil's Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) faced some internal pushback in relation to some of the points outlined in auction rules.

TCU minister Aroldo Cedraz, who had been following the work carried out by the Court's technical team, voted against the decision and had requested a 60-day postponement to analyze further the points raised by the Court's technical team, which included the implementation of a standalone, private communications network for the government and the roll-out of optic fiber in rivers in the Amazon region, both considered to be illegal, in addition to errors in the pricing methodology of frequency bands.

When justifying his decision, he pointed out that allowing the auction to go ahead under the proposed terms would be a backwards step. "In this case, we would be condemning Brazil and its citizens to live for another 20 years with expensive and low-quality telecommunications services," the minister said.

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