Finnish telecoms equipment maker Nokia Oyaz Brazil is expected to host the world’s largest single auction for the fifth-generation (5G) spectrum next year, a senior official told Reuters.
Nokia is setting its sights on Brazil, its biggest market in the region, to deploy the first 5G network in Latin America following a partnership with Uruguay’s official carrier Antel.
“We see political desire to be taken out for a large spectrum auction in the first quarter of 2020. I think it is to say that the big Christmas present next year in Brazil will likely be a 5G smartphone,” Wilson Wilson Cardoso, Nokia’s chief technology officer in Latin America, said in an interview on Monday.
Brazilian telecom regulator Anatel is still setting rules for the auction after deciding in May that both 2.3GHz and 3.5GHz frequencies will be allocated to 5G. Other bands such as 26 GHz and 700 MHz, which support ultra-reliable and low latency communication suitable for industrial use, may also be added to the same auction scheduled for March 2020, according to the agency.
If all four are auctioned together, Cardoso said it would be the world’s largest spectrum auction for 5G.
[“The crown jewels are certainly 26GHz and 700MHz, but the price speculation among the lesser carriers available is more spectrum,” he explained.
Nokia began testing the 5G technology in Brazil on February 2018, along with Telecom Italia Spa’s local subsidiary Tim Participus SA. Cardoso said that the Finnish company has also tested with other carriers, but refused to name them because the projects were confidential.
Like Ericsson of Sweden and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. of China, Nokia is also collaborating with Anatel before the expected auction, he said.
Asked whether Nokia’s business in Brazil or elsewhere has benefited from espionage concerns raised against rival Huawei by the administration of US President Donald Trump, Cardoso said the Finnish company is “taking advantage of all opportunities.”
“We are a Western alternative to Huawei’s products and their direct competitors, as our end-to-end portfolios are fairly consistent,” he said.
Nokia has signed 45 commercial contracts in 30 countries to provide equipment for the 5G network, the company said in an email, noting that the networks are already operating under 10 of the contracts. Last year, it invested more than 20% of its revenue in research and development, including 5G.