The Directing Council of Anatel held an extraordinary meeting this Monday (1) to decide on the 5G auction, but a request for views from President Leonardo Euler de Morais postponed the vote on the notice to February 24. The measure comes after the publication of an ordinance from the Ministry of Communications, which wants a private network for the federal government and demands road coverage commitments.
The presentation of the announcement was made by the rapporteur Carlos Baigorri, who detailed aspects about the frequencies to be auctioned and coverage commitments for those who finish the spectrum.
3.5 GHz frequency will have national and regional blocks
The 3.5 GHz band is the most awaited for Anatel’s auction. The agency divided the bidding into two blocks:
- four national blocks, with 80 MHz of spectrum;
- four regional blocks, with 80 MHz of spectrum, with a maximum of two blocks per provider.
If the blocks are not sold first hand, Anatel will make a second round with blocks of 20 MHz each, either in the national or regional lot.
Operators that buy 3.5 GHz will have to build public network
Coverage commitments can scare 3.5 GHz buyers: in addition to the cost of cleaning and transitioning from open satellite TV (TVRO), operators will have to pay for the construction of the Federal Public Administration’s Private Communication Network (4G in Brasília and optical fiber in all other states).
In addition, participation in the Integrated and Sustainable Amazon Program (PAIS) is also described as one of the commitments in the 3.5 GHz band. In the ordinance of the Ministry of Communications, the investment is estimated at R $ 1.2 billion to implement 12 thousand kilometers of subfluvial optical fiber from the Norte Conectado program.
However, that may still change: a 2018 decree that remains in force mandates Telebras – and not private sector operators – to implement a dedicated network for the federal public administration.
Who will want to finish off the 700 MHz frequency?
The 5G auction will also bid for leftovers in the 700 MHz band nationwide. Currently used by 4G, this frequency is very interesting because it allows greater signal coverage using fewer antennas. However, the commitments on this track just don’t make sense.
The draft presented by Baigorri excludes the participation of those who already have authorization in 700 MHz or who are in the process of transferring corporate control. Thus, Of course, TIM, Vivo and Oi would be prevented from finishing this track.
In addition, those who finish off the 700 MHz must comply with coverage commitments on sections of highways – by the way, this is the only frequency that conditions the presence of a signal on roads.
Therefore, if these rules are maintained in the current notice, no national operator will increase the capacity in the frequency of 700 MHz. A new company would be needed, which will bear the responsibility of building a new network (and sharing it with competitors) , since roaming will become mandatory where there is no coverage).
Anatel will require 5G Standalone for those who buy 3.5 GHz
The draft notice also establishes that operators that finish off the 3.5 GHz frequency with at least 50 MHz of spectrum will have to launch a standalone network in Brazil that does not depend on previous technologies such as 3G and 4G.
This may mean greater investment in the short term, since several legacy infrastructure from operators could not be used.
The agency justifies that the measure “meets society’s wishes for an effectively 5G network”, that it is “consistent with the pricing methodology used for the spectrum in question” and that “positions Brazil in the race for the economic and social appropriation of benefits of 5G ”.