Brazilian telcos commit to US$200mn in São Paulo antenna investments

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Brazilian telcos commit to US$200mn in Sao Paulo antenna investments

The three leading Brazilian mobile operators – Telefônica Brasil (Vivo), Claro and TIM – committed to deploy 286 cellular antennas in areas of poor coverage in the city of São Paulo, with investment of over 1bn reais (US$200mn), the municipal government said.

The agreement is a result of a decree regulating the new antennas law in the largest city in South America.

The law, which adapts local legislation to the federal law on antennas, was approved by the city council last year and makes the rules for the deployment of wireless infrastructure in São Paulo more flexible. With the decree, signed by mayor Ricardo Nunes, the law comes into force.

According to the city hall, TIM, Telefônica and Claro committed to carry out the deployments within 12 months.

Requests for the installation of radio base stations (RBS), mobile RBS and mini RBS in priority areas will have a 50% discount on licensing and registration costs if the application is within seven months after the date of publication of the decree.

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The city will also offer a 30% discount for requests filed after the first seven months and for requests filed 12 months before the decree publication date.

The new law also enshrines so-called tacit licensing, or ‘positive silence’. This means that if the municipality does not respond to the licensing request within 60 days, and provided all requirements are met, permitting is considered granted.

The 286 antennas will be installed in four areas considered priority districts of São Paulo.

Locations were defined following a technical study that took into account schools and health centers that currently have problems with internet and cellphone signals, São Paulo authorities have said.

TIM will be responsible for the deployment of 96 antennas and Claro and Telefônica for 95 each.

There is no information on the technology to be used, but it is very likely that some of the new antennas will be for 5G transmission. Under the country’s 5G auction rules, state capitals such as São Paulo must have the technology up and running in the 3.5GHz spectrum band by July 31.

According to the terms, tender winners must install at least one new antenna for every 100,000 people in state capitals.

In an interview with BNamericas last year, Vivien Suruagy, president of Feninfra, the association that groups 97,000 local companies that install and maintain telecom and IT networks, said 5G will need about seven times more antennas compared to 4G.

Suruagy was present at the decree signing event with mayor Nunes.

According to an antenna map produced by Conexis, the industry association that brings together the largest Brazilian operators, there were 6,708 antennas installed in São Paulo city at the end of January.

Of the total, 27.1% belong to Telefônica, 26.9% to Oi, 25.6% to TIM and 20.2% to Claro.

Oi was not part of the agreement with São Paulo because its mobile business is being sold to the three rivals. The company also did not participate in the latest two spectrum auctions, for 5G in November and for 4G in the 700MHz band in 2014.

Overall, Brazil had 96,152 cellular antennas as of end-January.

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