Brazilians carriers that bought spectrum licenses in the 2.5 GHz frequency band at auction in June have until April to cover all the offices of the Confederations Cup, and by December 2013, they must also cover the branches and sub-offices of the 2014 World Cup. Of the four carriers who received licenses—Telefónica’s Vivo, América Móvil’s Claro, Oi and Telecom Italia’s TIM — so far only Claro has launched commercial LTE services.
In addition to the carriers’ efforts, Brazil’s government is working to speed up deployments. Last week, the Brazilian telecom regulator Anatel demanded microwave (MMDS) pay-TV providers empty the 2510 MHz to 2570 MHz and 2630 MHz to 2690 MHz bands, which will be used for LTE.
Initially, MMDS providers had until June 30 to empty the bands, but they have now been asked to leave them by April 12. The measure was taken specifically with the six FIFA Confederations Cup host cities in mind.
In a statement, Anatel noted its concerns over the LTE schedule. MMDS operators that fail to release the spectrum in these cities before the deadline could have their licenses suspended and their base stations closed.
Anatel is also speeding up the use of the 700 MHz spectrum band for LTE. Anatel got the green light to debate the matter in February, when the Brazilian Ministry of Communications (Minicom) published its decision in the official gazette (Diário Oficial) to allow the allocation of the 700 MHz spectrum band for LTE mobile broadband. Currently, the 700 MHz spectrum is allocated for analog television in Brazil.
Last week, Anatel published two draft regulations for public comment regarding the use of radio frequency from 698 MHz to 806 MHz. Anatel’s main concern is to avoid interference in TV broadcasts from the use of the 700 MHz for LTE. Anatel also noted that phone companies may only use this band after pledging to bear part of the relocation costs.
According to the latest count by the industry association 4G Americas, the Latin American region now has 14 commercial LTE networks in nine countries. The first four commercial LTE networks in Latin America and the Caribbean were deployed at the end of 2011.
In its latest worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker report, IDC noted that successful rollout of LTE networks in Brazil is key to the country’s smartphone market growth.
Brazil’s smartphone market is rising, driven by a confluence of circumstances, such as tax breaks for vendors that create jobs via local mobile phone production. In addition, wireless service providers are offering greater subsidies to drive smartphone sales with an eye on higher data revenue streams in the future.