Will the Brazilian regulator change the coverage rules?

Will the Brazilian regulator change the coverage rules?

Could a holiday from fine payment in exchange for better coverage be the new trend for operators in Brazil – or even elsewhere? 

Certainly Anatel – Brazil’s National Telecommunications Agency – must feel that it has found a new incentive for operators to cover more of the nation. The Brazilian regulator apparently announced recently that it has approved a plan to convert financial penalties imposed on domestic operators into 4G coverage expansion obligations.

Press reports indicated that this gambit is seen by the regulator as a potentially effective way to get service providers to make investments in regions that, for economic reasons, may be considered to have limited appeal, despite having an undoubted social need for coverage.

Just to make sure, Anatel has insisted that providers ensure adequate maintenance and operation of any newly rolled out base stations in various locations (said by some reports to number about 13) for a minimum period of three years.

The emphasis on 4G is a useful reminder that, like many countries, Brazil still lacks comprehensive 4G coverage, in spite of planned 5G spectrum auctions planned for this year. The world’s largest bandwidth auction for 5G to date has, however, have been postponed due to the current health crisis.

In fact, in late March, the government scaled back non-essential services to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Could this, however, also affect the proposed 4G coverage upgrades Anatel is seeking?

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