Brazil okays rules for 5G spectrum auction, does not ban Huawei

Anatel, the telecoms regulator in Brazil, has approved rules for conducting spectrum auction for 5G networks this year — without any imposing any control on China’s Huawei Technologies for supplying equipment for building the network.
FIFA BrazilAnatel did not indicate about the likely time frame for releasing 5G frequency that will assist telecoms to build 5G network.

Some operators have launched 5G service in Brazil and Uruguay. The latest GSMA report indicated that spectrum auctions are on the way in Chile, and expected by 2021 in Brazil and potentially Colombia and Dominican Republic. Mobile operators will have 62 million 5G connections across the region by 2025, representing a near 10 percent adoption rate, according to GSMA.

Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro last year criticized the Chinese company and was under pressure from the former United States president Donald Trump to ban Huawei from 5G network in Brazil on security concerns.

Brazil’s telecom companies insisted on a free market, complaining that excluding Huawei would cost billions of dollars to replace the equipment of the Chinese company that supplies 50 percent of the current 3G and 4G networks.

Rules for the auction expected in June, however, have costly conditions such as requiring telecom companies to migrate by next year to more advanced technology with stand-alone networks not based on their current technology.

They will also have to cover the vast northern Amazon region with broadband connectivity, largely using optic fiber cables laid in rivers, and build a separate secure network for the federal government.

Industry representatives said Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, could not be excluded from Brazil’s 5G market because, besides the cost, it would set the country back three to four years in technology.

Huawei, which has invested around $4 billion in 5G between 2009 and 2019 worldwide, plans to manufacture the 5G network at one of its two manufacturing sites in Brazil.

The company has successfully conducted 5G tests with all of Brazil’s major carriers – Telefonica Brasil, TIM, America Movil’s Claro and Oi – and is helping them modernize their infrastructure ahead of a long-awaited 5G spectrum auction.

Telefonica Brasil and America Movil’s Claro are pressing for a 5-year transition to the more advanced stand-alone networks.

“The stand-alone condition requires changing the core of today’s networks and will set us back years,” said Vivien Suruagy, head of Feninfra, a lobby representing 137,000 companies that build and maintain telecommunications networks.

The rules must be approved by Brazil’s Federal Audit Court, the TCU, where the telecoms hope the government’s onerous conditions can be changed.