Anatel to re-farm mobile spectrum for next generation services

18 Aug 2010

The GSM Association (GSMA) has congratulated Brazil’s national telecoms regulator Anatel on its decision to re-farm wireless spectrum in the ‘technology neutral’ 2600MHz band to support the nationwide rollout of next generation mobile broadband services in the country. The association adds that the decision provides a clear blueprint for operators to follow vis a vis future network infrastructure investment. In a press release the GSMA noted that Anatel’s decision is consistent with the ITU’s Option 1 for international 2600MHz spectrum harmonisation, currently being followed by the majority of mobile operators worldwide. Option 1 (ITU-R M.1036-3) dictates that 2×70MHz FDD (2500MHz-2570MHz paired with 2620MHz-2690MHz) be allocated to mobile broadband deployment and 50MHz is allocated to TDD (2570MHz to 2620MHz), it said.

‘We are delighted that Anatel has made the decision to re-farm the 2.6GHz spectrum band to support the provision of next generation mobile broadband services across Brazil,’ said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, for GSMA. ‘Other countries such as Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Africa would benefit from similar rulings whereby existing spectrum is intelligently re-allocated for mobile broadband deployment as part of global spectrum harmonisation, driving widespread socio-economic benefits for governments and consumers and generating additional revenue for operators.’

Brazil’s 2600MHz spectrum band had previously been allocated to Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) operators to deliver pay-per-view TV services. MMDS is a broadband wireless point-to-multipoint specification utilising UHF (Ultra High Frequencies). Anatel’s ruling will not impact on MMDS operators, which will retain 70MHz of spectrum under the regulator’s new regime, comprising both 50MHz TDD as well as 20MHz FDD spectrum (2×10MHz, in the form of 2500MHz-2510MHz paired with 2620MHz-2630MHz). However, the watchdog’s decision will mean that incumbent mobile operators in Brazil will benefit from the majority of this spectrum allocation, as 120MHz is slated to be auctioned off by mid-2013; a total of three licences of 2×20MHz are expected to be made available. Mobile operators will also have the option of deploying Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology immediately, should they acquire an MMDS operator currently holding the requisite spectrum licences.

The GSMA said that the decision to ensure suitable spectrum availability is key to allowing Brazilian operators to follow the clear upgrade path from HSPA technology, which continues to enjoy impressive growth across the country, to LTE. Both HSPA and LTE are members of the GSM family of technologies and provide impressive mobile broadband service delivery and performance.

Brazil, National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel)