19/12/2006


3G and cellular frequencies in Brazil

 

The new regulation about cellular frequencies in Brazil (Res. 454 from 12/11/06) created new sub-bands of frequencies:

 

Sub-band
Frequency (MHz)
Commentary
M
1,800
Allow the implantation of a new GSM operator with national covering.
L
1,900
Sub-band with band of 5 MHz required by Vivo, that pretend to reach national covering.
F, G, H, I, J
1,900 and 2,100
Destined to the implantation of 3G

 

The new regulation also extended the number of extension sub-bands available to the operators and established in 06/30/2008 the date for the desactivation of the analogical systems (AMPS). (More details)

 

In Brazil WCDMA/HSDPA must be the technology of 3rd Generation (3G) adopted by cellular operators (more details). The biggest part of these systems is being placed in the World in the sub-bands of 1,900 and 2,100 MHz.

 

Note: illustrative figure, representation don´t correspond the occupation of the sub-bands

 

There are also implantations of 3G systems in the bands of 800 MHz and 1900 MHz, specially in the United States, and some suppliers developed WCDMA to the band of 900 MHz. The frequencies destined to cellular in Brazil, the band of 1,800 MHz is the only for which there aren't equipments to the implantation of 3G systems.

 

BrT announced that pretend, in 2007, consult the suppliers about the possibility of using the band of 1,800 MHz to 3G. So that this comes to occur it is necessary a market with enough volume to make possible the production of WCDMA equipments ( infra and cell phones) in this frequency band. It's always good the remember that Vivo didn't use this frequency band cause there wasn't CDMA equipments in these frequencies.

 

Anatel's Public Consultation

 

Anatel, through two public consultations (755 and 756), is trying to finish with the limitation of SMP providers in the same geographic area and provide a new Licitation of SMP frequencies.

 

The licitation would have the following objectives:

  • Sub-bands D and E (outside São Paulo, Northeast and Pelotas). The metropolitan region of São Paulo (011) it isn't in licitation cause Unicel won in the justice the rights of doing deposits of the guarantees necessary to keep this authorization.
  • Sub-band M (1,800 MHz) in the 3 regions of Brazil which allowed the entrance of a new operator with national covering.
  • The sub-band L (1,900 MHz) in the 10 SMC areas which could allow Vivo a national covering in these frequencies band.
  • Extension sub-bands in 900 and 1,800 MHz that could be used by operators to increase the capacity of its GSM networks.

Were out of licitation the sub-bands 1,900 and 2,100 MHz (F, G, H, I and J) destined to 3G systems. Anatel is trying to sell the sub-bands os 1,800 MHz existing before the licitation of 3G frequencies, more attractive to new operators.

 

Seems not probable that a new operator get interest for the sub-band M in 1,800 MHz to get in the brazilian market. The best strategy to a new incoming would pass by the implantation of a 3G netowork and not GSM, for example what H3G did in Europe. With 3G, beyond offering new services, it would have a advantage in cost according to the bigger capacity of 3G networks. The situation to be argued would be the time of descreasing cost of the 3G cell phones. GSM Association launched a new initiative to produce 3G cell phones with a cost lesser than US$ 30.

 

According to this situation, the licitation proposed by Anatel would have as main participant Vivo, acquiring the sub-band L and others of extension to place its GSM network. The licitation of the sub-bands to 3G in 1,900 and 2,100 MHz would be to the 2nd semester of 2007 and the first 3G networks (WCDMA) would be operating in Brazil in 2008.

 

This would be a great opportunity to the operators that have the spectrum free in 800 MHz if anticipate and launch 3G before others. Claro is an operator better placed in this situation, cause, with the migration of its clients to GSM, could implant 3G in the main brazilian States without getting new frequencies ( more details). It situation is even better, in case of the acquisition of Tim.

 

OI and BrT would be the harmed ones in this process, cause would have to wait the licitation of frequencies 1,900 and 2,100 to implant its 3G network.

 

According to the situation you could ask:

  • Would Anatel give licitation to sub-bands of 1,900 and 2,100 MHz with others proposed bands?
  • Will Claro enjoy its frequencies in 800 MHz to launch 3G (WCDMA/HSDPA) before others?
  • Will Vivo implant CDMA network in Minas Gerais and Northeast using the frequencies of 1,900 MHz?
  • Would Unicel have success launching it service in the metropolitan region of São Paulo?
  • Is there space to the entrance of a new operator with national covering in Brazil?
  • After the consolidations in course, how many cell phone operators would exist in each brazilian State?

 

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