Published: 29 June, 2009
Brazil is set to auction new licenses for mobile data services, even though its long planned 2.5GHz WiMAX spectrum sale is still being held up by regulatory disputes, mainly over whether mobile services should be allowed in the band.
While the government and cellco lobbyists continue to debate that one, delaying the auction further, regulator Anatel hopes to open up new mobile broadband frequencies more quickly in other, less contentious parts of the spectrum, claiming that the current wired and wireless broadband networks in the country cannot keep up with demand.
Brazil is likely hold its additional auction in 2010, probably in the 2.1GHz band, a response to growing consumer demand for these services, said Roberto Pinto Martins, telecoms secretary at the Communications Ministry. But he would not comment on whether this spectrum would be technology neutral, or targeted specifically at WiMAX, UMTS and/or LTE. The main focus will be greater urban capacity, said the Dow Jones report.
Mobile operators, including Vivo, TIM and America Movil subsidiary Claro, plan to spend more than Real10bn ($5.2bn) this year on 3G networks.
Brazil is expected to be one of the major markets for WiMAX, especially with some operators considering a plan to leapfrog 3G and go straight to 4G. However, the auction of licenses has been repeatedly delayed and earlier this month Neotec, the organization that represents Brazil's operators of MMDS services - the multichannel, multipoint offerings already present in 2.5GHz - says lobbying by Ericsson and Qualcomm has stirred up repeated battles between Neotec and Anatel, which are now involving the Brazilian Congress. Brazil's 3G operators reportedly fear 'unfair competition' from MMDS operators if these are allowed to offer mobile services (they paid large sums for their 3G licenses, though build-out has hardly begun, while some 2.5GHz franchises were sold very cheaply and new auctions are also expected to be affordable.