Accounts Court clears the way for Brazil’s 5G auction

5g auction
Communications Minister Fábio Faria lobbied intensely for the 5G bidding notice. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

Brazil’s Federal Accounts Court approved the bidding notice for the country’s 5G auction, clearing the way for the sale of frequency bands that will make the latest generation of internet connections operational in Latin America’s largest nation.

Nine judges voted 8-1 in favor of the proposal, with just one member following the recommendation of the court’s expert consultants, who believe the government included unwelcome terms in the tender. They had issues with provisions for a program to install 10,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cable in 59 northern municipalities, and another consisting of a private 5G network to be used exclusively by the government. 

The latter represented a compromise to allow Chinese tech firm Huawei to participate in the auction — thus avoiding friction with Beijing — all while siloing government systems from the company, which is accused of allowing the Chinese Communist Party to spy on Western countries.

Communications Minister Fábio Faria — who lobbied members of the accounts court behind the scenes — celebrated the result. “The court understood the importance of 5G to the country’s competitiveness,” he said. 

The government expects BRL 45 billion (USD 8.6 billion) in investment over the next 20 years, and hopes to have 5G operational in all 27 state capitals by mid-2022. The auction is expected to take place before October and most of the money will not be paid to the government as premiums, but rather as investment commitments.