Claro takes early lead in Brazil’s 5G race

Brazil's 5G

Unwilling to wait for Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction, Claro Brasil said it has launched the country’s first commercial 5G wireless network, using dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) to rollout the network across frequencies it already has.

DSS is a technology that allows carriers to share the same channel between 4G and 5G users simultaneously, based on demand, making it easier to deploy 5G. It’s basically an intermittent step.

5G is being touted as a major boon for the video industry in particular. It will allow telcos to play a major role in wireless delivery of video, including high-def live events, with minimal latency. It also opens the door for VR as a mobile app. Those opportunities mean a bigger role for telcos in the media services world.

“The arrival of the 5G DSS allows us to offer a first experience with the fifth generation of mobile networks using everything we have invested and which is already available today,” said José Félix, president of Claro Brasil. The deployment will result in a gradual migration to 5G before the new frequencies dedicated to the technology have been granted.

Brazil’s 5G plans impacted by COVID-19

Brazil’s National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) had scheduled a frequencies auction for the 5G technology in November, but it recently acknowledged that the event would be postponed until December, and possibly into next year.

5G networks require a next-gen smartphone, as well. Motorola this week started pre-selling its “Edge” smartphone in Brazil last week.

Claro Brasil is owned by Mexico’s America Movil, which is deploying the DSS tech in Latin America for the first time. Potential 5G network coverage in the roll out wasn’t detailed.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telecom operators in at least five Latin American countries had planned to begin deploying 5G networks by mid-to late 2021.

The bottom line

Wireless operators globally are anticipating the full rollout and adoption of 5G networks and devices over the next few years, as the technology will allow massive expansion of bandwidth and speed. Claro, for example, says it expects its 5G network to deliver speeds 12X faster than conventional 4G.

Operators are looking at the expansion as a sure bet that allows them to set the pace bundling OTT services.

For content owners, especially sports rights holders, 5G will open the door for direct-to-consumer plays that make content bundles attractive to a wide swath of the market.

Stay tuned and stay well.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn