In February 2021, the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) approved the notice regarding the auction of 5G networks in Brazil. This was one of the first steps to make the discussion about the time necessary for make the 5th generation network available throughout the country.
With the public notice approved, discussions about the benefits of 5G were opened, bringing up subjects such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and mixed reality, which will allow the connection between equipment and machines at residential, commercial and industrial levels due to the Internet of Things ( IoT).
According to Eduardo Carvalho, managing director of Equinix Brasil, it is important to highlight that 5G is aimed more at companies than at the end consumer, since it allows advances in areas such as automation, with emphasis on industry, autonomous vehicles and agriculture, in addition to technologies with varied applications, such as augmented and virtual reality. “All these innovations and others that have not yet been created positively impact the country’s GDP “, he said.
According to a survey conducted by Equinix in 2020, 47% of IT decision makers pointed out that 5G would enable the use of new technologies in business.
However, before thinking about the benefits of implementing this network, it is necessary to raise a more comprehensive and immediate discussion: how long will it take until at least all capitals have access to 5G in Brazil?
When will 5G arrive in all capitals of Brazil?
According to the minister of communications, Fábio Faria, 5G should be available in all Brazilian capitals until July 2022. Still in 2020, however, there are plans to make 20 network points available in Brazil.
The telecommunications operators that win the Anatel auction will have some requirements to fulfill:
- in municipalities with more than 500 thousand inhabitants, 5G should be implemented by July 2025;
- those with more than 200 thousand inhabitants, the deadline is July 2026;
- finally, those with a population over 100 thousand should have their territory served by the network by July 2027.
With that, it is predicted that 100% of the municipalities with less than 30 thousand inhabitants are served by December 2029.
According to Eduardo Carvalho, operators may face difficulties with the 5G implementation deadline in Brazil. However, the opportunity for revenue generation is great, especially in the B2B market.
“For other sectors, [o 5G] offers new revenue opportunities and a better quality of experience for your end customer “, explained Carvalho.
Expansion of internet networks in Brazil
With the approval of radio frequency bids in the 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands, it will be possible that service providers – Brazilian telephone operators – have more resources to expand the internet network to as many cities in the shortest time as possible.
To make this possible, the federal government has determined that each auctioned band, with the exception of the 26 GHz band, will have a obligation to be fulfilled to the detriment of the advancement of the 5G internet in Brazil.
The company winning the auction for this band must install 4G or 5G antennas in all cities and roads provided for in the Ministry of Communications ordinance. The deadline for compliance is up to 2025.
It provides for the obligation to offer at least 4G technology to 95% of the urban area of municipalities without access to 4G and which have less than 30 thousand inhabitants.
The range of 3.5 GHz it is considered the best band for the propagation of 5G in Brazil, mainly because it is identified – from tests all over the world – as one of the most suitable for the development of the 5th generation. Currently, 3.5 GHz is being occupied by satellite dishes.
Therefore, the winner of the auction for this band must:
- install 5G antennas in cities with 30 thousand inhabitants or more (for national lots, with an antenna for every 15 thousand inhabitants) until July 2029;
- install 5G antennas in cities with less than 30 thousand inhabitants by the end of 2029;
- clear the signal from the satellite dishes, transferring the operators to a band called Ku;
- ramp up backhaul* in cities listed until 2025, with the aim of expanding fiber optics in the country.
*Backbone is what connects the operators with the servers, they are routes through which the data travels. The backhaul makes connections between the backbone and peripheral subnets, that is, those that give access to end users.
Why will 5G in Brazil take until 2022?
As stated, the forecast is that 5G will be available in all Brazilian capitals by 2022. The cause of this wait, despite the Anatel auction being estimated for the 1st semester of 2021, is simple: satellite dish migration.
Satellite TV is expected to migrate to another spectrum, the Ku band, time-consuming and expensive process. About 6.5 million households use a satellite dish to watch open TV, according to the IBGE in a survey carried out in 2017.
The operator that buys the 3.5 GHz spectrum must distribute kits (containing a new receiver and a satellite dish) free of charge to all low-income families that are part of the Federal Government’s Single Registry for Social Programs. The estimated cost is R $ 2.5 billion.
What about 4G coverage in Brazil?
Despite 5G bringing immense advances in the technological field, such as the 100 times faster network speed, Anatel’s announcement also punctuates the need for 4G expansion.
Although the 4th generation does not clash with the 5th in terms of speed, stability and number of connected devices per square meter, 4G is still a network spectrum that meets basic needs very wellconnection s to the population’s internet.
According to Anatel data from December 2020, 3G still has more than 33 million accesses. This shows that about 10% of the population connected to the internet does not have the resources to use 4th generation networks, much less 5th.
Therefore, there will be a need to expand at least 4G to all locations with more than 600 inhabitants, demonstrating the importance of its use in more cities, mainly inland.
What is the 5G DSS?
In July 2020, Claro activated the 1st 5th generation network in Brazil, known as 5G DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, or dynamic spectrum sharing). Although not considered a pure network, for use the spectra of 3G and 4G, the connection has its advantages.
The first is that the 5G DSS is easier to install, so it’s more economical. Through a software update, it is possible to change the support of the radio antennas to support the technology.
The 5G DSS is also faster than 4G, implying much greater viability in regions where the installation of pure 5th generation receivers is not feasible.
However, DSS is not able to deliver on all 5G premises, which involve much more than superior navigation speed. That’s why, despite being a viable alternative, the 5G DSS should be a priority only in specific situations where the real 5G cannot be installed – at least for a while.