Anatel supremo warns that Brazil’s 4G mobile band may not be ready for World Cup

12 Apr 2013

Reuters quotes the president of Brazil’s national regulator Anatel, Joao Rezende, as saying that the rollout of 4G services in the 700MHz band will not come on-stream in time for the 2014 football World Cup. Instead, Rezende warns that tourists and visitors may be forced to purchase ‘4G chips’ that will work on Brazilian cellcos’ 2.5G mobile networks instead – in other words, they will have to settle for much slower data speeds. It would appear that the country’s procrastination in licensing spectrum in time is adding to the World Cup organisers headaches. They are already facing concern over lagging transportation investments and missed deadlines for construction of stadiums, it says.

In June 2012 Brazil successfully auctioned off 2500MHz spectrum for 4G, and has stipulated that carriers provide coverage in the host cities for the World Cup and indeed this year’s Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the big event, in good time. Meanwhile, industry watchers had hoped that Brazil would free up the 700MHz band for 4G in time for an influx of foreign football fans, but a shortage of 700MHz-suitable smartphones is causing concern, Rezende said. ‘People will end up buying a chip here,’ the president said in an interview at his offices. ‘Aside from corporate transmissions, the average consumer will avoid roaming … The barrier isn’t technological, it’s financial.’