Brazil’s communications minister Paulo Bernardo said yesterday that he expects this year’s planned auction of 700MHz band 4G mobile licences to go ahead by ‘the end of August or the first week of September,’ remaining in line with the government’s previous rough schedule of August. The minister elaborated that the auction plan was last week passed to the state auditor, Tribunal de Contas da Uniao (TCU), which is expected to take 30 days to review and approve the text. If there are no objections to the plan, the preparations for the auction should take another month, he added. As reported by Brazilian news site Zero Hora, Mr Bernardo yesterday downplayed concerns about possible delays to the timetable, particularly the possibility of the auction being delayed until after Brazil’s elections (scheduled for this October), saying that ‘theoretically this can happen because we cannot set a deadline for TCU. But the trend is that the auction will happen before the election.’ Bernardo was speaking at an international investor presentation given by the ministry and Brazilian telecoms regulator Anatel at the Brazilian Embassy in London, following a similar presentation in New York, as Brazil aims to attract fresh foreign investment.
As reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this week the ministry finalised the schedule for shutting down analogue TV signals and freeing up the 4G 700MHz band across Brazil, which, following a pilot phase, begins in major cities in April 2016 and will see the 4G frequencies available in areas representing around 60% of the population by the end of 2017, and the entire country by November 2018. Usage of the 700MHz range for LTE enables coverage of large areas using fewer antennas, enabling high speed mobile broadband services to rural areas at a lower cost. Yesterday the communications minister also noted that, unlike the high levels of competition in large cities, smaller towns in the Brazilian interior have low competition and therefore ‘there is a great market to be exploited.’