Brazil faces further delay in 5G spectrum auction

The coronavirus pandemic may be delaying the country’s 5G mobile network auction in Brazil, Reuters reported.
Verizon 5G network by EricssonLeading mobile operators in Brazil include Vivo owned by Telefonica, Claro owned by America Movil, Telecom Italia and Oi.

Vivo held 32 percent share of wireless subscribers in Brazil in the fourth quarter of 2019. Vivo had approximately 31.9 percent share of the Brazilian mobile telephony market in 2018.

TIM Brasil and Telefonica are in talks to acquire the Oi mobile business. TIM Brasil had spent 185 million euros in the first quarter of 2020 towards its Capex plans in Brazil with strong focus on fixed broadband build out.
Brazil mobile subscriber base
Social distancing measures are already boosting broadband usage by up to 50 percent in Brazil.

“The pandemic certainly has an impact on the auction schedule and also in the 5G supply chain in the short-term,” Leonardo Euler de Morais, Anatel’s president, said in a webcast held by local think tank Aliança Conecta Brasil F4.

“In the long run, however, the pandemic fuels 5G deployment and fiber expansion by testing the importance of digital solutions,” Morais added.

The comments on 5G marked a slight shift in Anatel’s view since April, when the regulator insisted on the possibility of carrying out the 5G auction late in 2020, adding further delay talks were still premature.

Even before COVID-19, the long-awaited 5G spectrum bidding schedule had been postponed from its initial March 2020 date, given the need to further investigate interference with other signals.

Late in March, Anatel indefinitely halted field tests for the 3.5 GHz frequency, but kept other 5G computer simulations going.

Morais praised telecoms firms for keeping a high-quality service even with an increasing traffic during the pandemic, as well as ongoing efforts to expand fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure, which he sees as a key step before the 5G deployment.

Oi SA, Brazil’s largest fixed-line carrier, aims to raise capital expenditure (Capex) on FTTH to between 4 billion and 5 billion reais this year compared with 3 billion reais in 2019, Oi CEO Rodrigo Abreu said on the webcast. China’s Huawei Technologies is a key partner for Oi.

Huawei’s new Chief Executive for Brazil, Sun Baocheng, noted demand for telecoms gear in Brazil has not suffered from the coronavirus outbreak.

“Fiber has become a basic demand for people like water and electricity. We’ll continue to bring the latest technologies to Brazilians,” said Sun Baocheng, who replaced Yao Wei as Brazil CEO this week.