Government still plans partial 5G in 2021, even with delayed auctions

President Jair Bolsonaro and Minister of Communications Fábio Faria at the opening of the Digital Day exhibition at the Salão Negro do Congresso Nacional | Photo: Cleverson Oliveira / Ministry of Communications

With the analysis of the 5G opinion planned by the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), the Ministry of Communication believes that the publication of the document should take place by early September, paving the way for the auctioning of frequencies. which will support 5G technology in the country. The estimate is based on deadlines of five days for the return of the notice to the National Telecommunications Agency after the vote at the TCU and seven additional days for publication after receipt, indicated by the President of Anatel to the Minister Fábio Faria – if the text is approved without the need for adjustments.

At a recent press conference, the minister said that all Brazilian capitals are still expected to have 5G by mid-2022 and some of them still in 2021, even with the observed delay. Originally, the Ministry of Communications had defended that the auction would take place in July. The portfolio plans were however thwarted by the delay in analyzing the draft opinion, which went beyond what was expected in the TCU.

According to Fábio Faria, “the telecom companies themselves have assured us that the advisory obligations (placing 5G in 27 capitals by July of next year) are maintained; we may even have some capitals with 5G. autonomous by the end of this year. [erguida do zero, totalmente independente do 4G] functioning according to the feedback that I have received from companies ”, declared the Minister.

Regardless of the deadlines set out in the notice, the ministry said there are many areas free from the risk of broadcast interference and minor network adjustments would be sufficient to meet 5G in some places.

Regarding the delay of the auction compared to the date planned by the federal government, industry representatives have already expressed their preference for more extensive evaluation processes and clearer rule guarantees. The president of Telefônica, Christian Gebara, for example, stressed that once the auction has been defined and carried out, the 5G signal can be activated in “a few months”. “If the auction takes place in July or September, the difference is minimal,” he told O Estado de São Paulo newspaper in April.

The 5G analytics node in TCU

Anatel approved the proposal developed for the new generation of mobile internet in February and sent the draft in March for the TCU technical assessment, which will indicate whether the auction rules comply with national legislation and finances.

At the time, the court made a commitment to return the notice within 60 days, which is shorter than the regimental. The problem is that only last month the TCU received from the regulatory agency all the documents needed to arm auditors. In notes dated June 26 and 28, the National Telecommunications Agency and the Ministry of Communications said they had sent all necessary documents to the court, clarifying all outstanding issues.

After conversations on the relevance of the subject with the ministry and Anatel, the technicians of the TCU reduced by more than a month their deadline for presenting an opinion to the rapporteur, Minister Raimundo Carreiro, who will also bring forward in five days the return to full position. At his request, the president of the Federal Court of Accounts, Ana Arraes, fixed the vote for August 18.

According to Fábio Faria, the notice will then be sent to Anatel within five days of the vote and the publication is due within the next seven days “due to the great interaction between TCU and Anatel and the Ministry of Communications”. Despite the Minister’s expectations, there may be further delays if the rapporteur and the Court understand that there is a need to change the text of the draft beyond the discussions that have taken place in recent months.

The sensitive points raised by the technical field of TCU are possible irregularities or illegalities in certain compensations listed in the notice. Possible problems include the creation of an exclusive telecommunications network for the use of the federal public administration (estimated at R $ 1 billion) and the Sustainable Integrated Amazon Program (Pais), which provides for the installation of fiber. optics in the region (and will cost operators R $ 1.5 billion).

The issues raised were the possibility of the government transferring obligations that should be its own to the private sector and thus manipulating the spending limit. During analyzes at the TCU, court technicians also requested more complete information on the pricing model for the radio frequencies to be auctioned.

Non-collective, the 5G auction will require a series of compensations from the winners who will be required to make infrastructure investments in exchange for the use of operating bands.

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