The coronavirus pandemic has again delayed – or been blamed for delaying – 5G spectrum auctions, this time in Brazil and Croatia.
Brazil has dropped plans to hold its 5G frequency auction at the end of this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Leonardo Euler, head of sector regulator Anatel, earlier this week, adding that the auction would now take place during the first half of 2021.
It’s not the first time that the date for Brazil’s auction of 5G spectrum has been put back, but on this occasion the delay is said to be related to testing. The coronavirus seems to have interrupted what has been described as a crucial 3.5GHz testing programme focused on the coexistence of mobile broadband and TV services in the band.
It’s true that 3.5GHz is not the only band likely to host 5G services; the range also includes frequencies in the 700MHz, 2.3GHz, and 26GHz mmWave bands, albeit some frequencies are better suited to specific services (like broadband or IoT) than others.
In fact, Anatel has also suggested that operators can adapt their networks to use already awarded frequencies in the 700MHz and 2.3GHz bands to provide the first 5G applications. However, that may be difficult; Anatel has acknowledged that the 5G device ecosystem remains underdeveloped in Brazil.
A similar testing issue seems to have delayed plans by the Croatian Postal & Electronic Communications Agency to auction 5G-capable frequencies in the 700MHz, 3.6GHz and 26GHz bands by the end of this year. The auction will now take place in the first half of 2021 and the Croatian regulator has reportedly opened a consultation into the allocation of 5G-capable spectrum alongside 800MHz and 900MHz frequencies.
In this case it was the migration of TV broadcasts from the 700MHz range that was delayed by the pandemic. The effect of the virus on operators’ finances has also been mentioned. Whatever the reasons, Brazil and Croatia join a lengthening list of countries delaying 5G auctions due to the pandemic, including Poland, Portugal, Austria, Spain, France and the Czech Republic.