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Brazil “can’t miss out” on 5G opportunity, says vice-president

Senior Brazilian government officials said the country is eager to seize the commercial opportunities of 5G technology and is working on the rules for the auction of the fifth-generation spectrum, with special focus on aspects such as security and cost-effectiveness.

At the Painel Telebrasil conference on Tuesday (8), Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão said the country “can’t miss out on the 5G opportunity” by not keeping up with other countries that are investing in the technology.

“[Failure to seize] this opportunity would mean decades of setbacks and losses”, Mourão said, adding that the government sees the relevance of telecommunications networks in “a world that is moving towards the era of knowledge”.

“Networks have to be reliable, fast and secure. They will enable a better present and a better future”, he argued.

It is up to the government to conduct the process of adaptation of the Brazilian telecommunications system to the new technology, the vice president noted: “This must be done safely, protecting our sensitive knowledge and our privacy, but using the means already available and considering the principles of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and security.”

According to the vice president, the government is working on the rules for the auction of the next-generation spectrum. Mourão said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations and the Ministry of Communications are working alongside the national telecoms agency Anatel and the Institutional Security Office to “set technical parameters for the bidding process, so as to create the right conditions in the shortest possible timeframe so that our operators can start adapting to the new system”.

Last year, Mourão confirmed that Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro was asked by US president Donald Trump to stop Huawei from developing new mobile networks in Brazil. At the time, Mourão said the government would not interfere with the Chinese giant’s activities – as long as the firm creates local jobs and plays by its rules.

Brazil’s 5G auction was originally set to be held in March, but it was then delayed due to the pandemic. In June this year, Anatel’s president Leonardo Euler said that in the most optimistic scenario, the auction could happen in the first quarter of 2021.

Such delays could cost Brazil billions in lost tax revenues as well as investments: vendors like Ericsson and Nokia have shown interest in the country’s coveted 5G spectrum and have announced plans to invest heavily and attract opportunities to the Latin market.


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