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Brazilian carriers start LTE trials; Oi to invest $493 million

Less than four months after holding the 2.6 GHz spectrum auction for LTE, Brazilian wireless telecom operators have begun to do some LTE testing and launches. This week, Oi trialed its LTE network with a videocall test using a Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE smartphone. The carrier said it expects to invest about U.S.$ 494 million (R$ 1 billion) on LTE launches through 2015.

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Oi expects to start the soft launches by December of this year, offering the new services to a select group of subscribers. Current, Oi’s LTE network is running in the Leblon neighborhood in the city of Rio de Janeiro. By December, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Brasília will receive public testing. The commercial launch is set for April of next year.

Claro, the local unit of Mexican América Móvil, is not behind. After having deployed LTE networks in three tourist cities in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (Campos do Jordão, Búzios and Parati), Claro announced it will offer a Huawei E392 modem compatible with its 2G network, 3G (HSPA and HSPA +) and LTE.

According to the roadmap from the telecom regulator Anatel the terms of authorization to use radio frequencies in the sub-bands 2500 MHz to 2690 MHz sub-band and radio frequency of 451 MHz to 458 MHz and 461 MHz to 468 MHz will be signed on October 16, 2012.

All municipalities with over 100,000 inhabitants must be covered by LTE networks by December 31, 2016. The cities that will host the FIFA Confederations Cup must be covered by April 30, 2013. By December 31, 2015, rural areas up to 30 km from the headquarters of all Brazilian municipalities must have coverage in the 450 MHz band, with voice and data services. The bid provides for the price of $ 0.31 for prepaid minutes and R $ 30.60 for monthly allowance of 100 minutes on postpaid. The monthly data allowance is U.S. $ 32.59 for speeds of 256 kbps.

Many analysts expect Vivo to lead the LTE journey, as the local unit of Spanish Telefónica might not want to lose its number 1 position in the market. Vivo is also the carrier that has deployed 3G networks over a largest number of cities.

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