Brazil’s regulator approves rules for 5G spectrum auction

Brazil’s regulator approves rules for 5G spectrum auction

Brazil has one of the largest mobile markets in Latin America due to the sheer size of its population.

Healthy competition in the mobile market has helped reduce the price of mobile services in Brazil in recent years and mobile service providers have had much success in converting their customers from prepaid to contract plans. Mobile broadband take-up has been rapid, with around 213.7 million subscriptions as of March 2021, bringing the penetration rate to just over 100%.

The principal telcos include Telefônica Brasil, operating fixed-line and mobile services under the Vivo brand, as well as América Móvil operating services under the Claro brand. Oi also offers a range of services though the company’s financial difficulties recently forced the company to sell its mobile, tower and data centre units in a bid to reduce debt.

The multi-spectrum auction, intended to push the development of 5G, was scheduled for March 2020 but was delayed to mid-2021 due to interference issues with satellite TV broadcasts and the Covid-19 pandemic. The auction will be the largest conducted in Brazil thus far, though given the underused capabilities of LTE it is unlikely that the licensees will provide commercial services before the end of 2021.

The country also has one of the largest fixed line broadband markets in Latin America, though broadband penetration is only slightly above the regional average, trailing behind Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Amendments to the licensing regime adopted in October 2019 also require that ISPs which have switched to authorisations invest money saved from lighter regulations in the expansion of broadband services.

The fixed line broadband market has seen rapid growth for a number of years, with a growing focus on fibre broadband. In 2019 the number of fibre accesses overtook DSL connections. Vivo has the largest share of the fibre market, followed by Oi and Claro.

The country is a key landing point for a number of important submarine cables connecting to the US, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Several new cable systems are due to come into service through to 2022, which will increase bandwidth and push down broadband prices for end-users. Investments have also been made into terrestrial fibre cables between Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

The traditional fixed-line market continues to suffer from consumers substituting services for mobile and fixed broadband solutions.

This report provides a review of Brazil’s telecom market, including infrastructure and the regulatory environment. It profiles the main fixed-line operators and provides relevant statistics and analyses. The report also covers the mobile voice and data segments, providing a range of statistics and analyses, as also subscriber forecasts. In addition, the report reviews the fixed and fixed-wireless broadband sectors, including an assessment of technologies and regulatory influences.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. Since 2020 the telecoms sector, to various degrees, has experienced a downturn in mobile device production. It was also difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G has been postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Oi sells mobile, data centre and tower units;
  • BTG Pactual buys 58% of Oi’s fibre business Infraco for $2.3 billion;
  • Regulator allows accredited MVNOs to sign access agreements with more than one MNO and preps for multi-spectrum 5G auction;
  • Algar Telecom acquires Vogel Telecom, adds 3,400 corporate clients;
  • Nextel Brazil rebranded as Claro-nxt;
  • Regulator allows operators with spectrum in the 850MHz band to extend their concessions until the end of November 2028;
  • Tannat submarine cable connecting Brazil and Argentina ready for service;
  • Telefônica Brasil and CDPQ create wholesale fibre broadband business, dubbed FiBrasil;
  • América Móvil to spin off their towers and other related passive infrastructure in its Latin American markets,
  • Operators launch 5G services on a limited basis;
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data updates to March 2021 and operator data to Q1 2021, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic on the telecom sector, recent market developments.

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Developing Telecoms market report summaries are produced in partnership with BuddeComm, the world’s largest continually updated online telecommunications research service.

The above article is a summary of the following BuddeCom report:

Report title: Brazil - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Edition: June 2021

Analyst: Henry Lancaster

Number of pages: 359

Companies mentioned in this report: Telefônica Brasil (Vivo), Brisanet, BTG Pactual, TIM Brasil, Claro, Huawei, Oi, Nextel Brasil, CTBC/Algar Telecom, Sercomtel Celular, Vodafone Brazil/ARQIA, Embratel, Ericsson, Google, GVT, Universo Online (UOL), Net Serviços de Comunicação, Intelig, Neovia, Eletropaulo Telecom, Copel, BuscaPé, Global Crossing, Star One, TelesatBrasil, Hispamar, Telebrás, Intelig

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