Algar Telecom deploys 1st 5G network in Brazil using 2.3GHz band

Brazilian network operator Algar Telecom announced that it launched what it claims to be the first commercial 5G network in the country. It’s a commercial Non Standalone (NSA) 5G service using its newly acquired 2.3GHz spectrum. The 5G network went live on 15 December and covers selected parts of Uberlandia and Uberaba, as well as Franca in Sao Paulo, with initial coverage reaching some 40 districts in these three cities.

Algar had carried out demonstrations of 5G technology two weeks ago in Uberaba via an implementation carried out together with Nokia and with a focus on agribusiness. According to the company, investments were made in transport network structures, network core and service platforms.

Brazil’s Minister of Communications, Fábio Faria, had anticipated in his hearing before the Senate last week that Algar would be the first telco to launch 5G services in the country.

“For this almost immediate launch to be possible, intensive planning prior to the 5G auction was essential, ensuring the acquisition of the 2.3 GHz frequency, which does not require spectrum cleaning. In addition, the company already had a good part of its infrastructure adequate or easily adapted to offer 5G. We made investments in backhaul structures, network core and service platforms,” the telco said in a release.

In the 5G auction, which ended on November 5, Algar Telecom had secured seven regional slots: five on the 26 GHz frequency, one on the 3.5 GHz frequency and one on the 2.3 GHz frequency. All slots obtained are in Algar Telecom’s original area of ​​operation, where the company has operated since 1954, and which covers 87 municipalities in the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The government of Brazil raised a total of 47.2 billion reals ($8.5 billion) in its recent 5G spectrum auction, making it the second largest auction of assets in the country’s history, according to the government.

Through this auction, the government offered spectrum in the 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.5 GHZ and 26 GHz bands.

The country’s main mobile operators, Vivo, Claro and TIM, secured 5G spectrum as well as telecoms operators Algar Telecom and Sercomtel. Also, six new entrants secured 5G spectrum in the auction.

The new entrants that secured licenses in the auction are Winity II Telecom, Brisanet, Fly Link, Neko Serviços e Comunicações and Entertainment and Education, Consórcio 5G Sul and Cloud2U Indústria e Comércio de Equipamentos Eletrônicos.

Brazilian Communications Minister Fabio Faria said that the government will schedule a new 5G spectrum auction in 2022 to sell batches that did not attract interest, mainly in the 26 GHZ spectrum band.  Faria noted that the 26 GHZ spectrum did not attract interest due to uncertainties in the business model.

The rules previously approved by telecommunications watchdog Anatel stipulate that 5G should be deployed across Brazilian state capitals by July 31, 2022.

Brazilian cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants will have 5G by July 31, 2025, while the deadline for the rollout of the service in locations with more than 200,000 inhabitants is July 31, 2026. Also, Brazilian cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants will have 5G by July 31 2027, and the service will be available in locations with more than 30,000 inhabitants by July 31, 2028.

TeleGeography notes that Algar acquired regional spectrum in the 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz bands in the country’s 5G spectrum auction. Unlike the 3.5GHz band, the 2.3GHz band does not require cleaning for interference before 5G use. Algar executive Marcio De Jesus commented: “The company already had a good part of its infrastructure adequate or easy to adapt to the 5G offer. We made investments in backhaul structures, network core and service platforms.”