Nextel Brasil bags eleven 3G operating licences

15 Dec 2010

NII Holding Inc’s Brazilian mobile venture Nextel Servicos de Telecomunicacoes (Nextel Brasil) won all but two of the 13 mobile licences being auctioned by the regulator Anatel on Tuesday. In total, Nextel won eleven concessions paying BRL1.2 billion (USD707 million) for the rights to offer 3G mobile services in all regions of the country. In the process it secured 20MHz of frequencies in the 1900MHz and 2100MHz bands across most of the country’s operating regions. The operator, which has carved out a niche for itself by offering iDEN-based services, agreed to pay the minimum price for three of the licences, and bid as much as three times the minimum for the right to operate in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Sao Paulo – Brazil’s wealthiest state. It was only outbid in operating areas serving parts of Minas Gerais, in Brazil’s southeast, and Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul, in Brazil’s centre-west, Anatel said on its website. Algar Telecom (formerly CTBC Celular) won one licence, agreeing to pay BRL30.5 million for spectrum in Minas Gerais state, one of the company’s strongholds, while 14 Brasil Telecom Celular, a subsidiary of Brazilian telco Telemar Norte Leste (Oi), won the other remaining concession. It paid BRL1.4 million for spectrum in parts of Mato Grosso do Sul and Goias states.

Nextel Brasil president Sergio Chaia said the company’s success marked ‘a historic moment for Nextel’, allowing it to double its potential for growth by entering the 3G market. ‘It’s a promising market,’ Chaia reportedly said. ‘Only 8% of Brazilians [currently] use wireless high speed internet … Nextel sees room to grow in this area,’ he added. The official did not divulge a timetable for launch, but did say it hoped to launch as soon as it completed the deployment of its UMTS network. It has secured funding from Brazil’s national development bank, also known as BNDES, Chaia said.

Anatel’s auction included a total of 165 spectrum lots, the remaining 152 of which featured spectrum that had previously gone unsold in the country. The outcomes of the other spectrum auctions were not available at the time of writing.