Huawei says Brazil on target with 5G tests, but falling behind neighbors

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd expects to lead 5G development in Brazil, but sees some challenges for the country to catch up with other Latin American markets in deploying the ultrafast service, an executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A Huawei signage is pictured at their booth at Interpol World in Singapore July 2, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

The world’s largest telecoms equipment maker has successfully tested 5G with all four main carries in Brazil and is helping them modernize their infrastructure ahead of a long-awaited spectrum auction, said Nicolas Driesen, Huawei’s director of technology.

“We have been working on 5G since 2009 and our end-to-end technology is cost-competitive because it allows the reuse of some equipment from previous generations,” he said in an interview late last week.

Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Oyj are also racing to deploy 5G but Huawei’s low costs and longstanding relationships give it an inside track in much of Latin America.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has urged governments worldwide to shun Huawei because of spying concerns but few have heeded those warnings.

Even with Huawei leading the charge, Brazil is falling behind other countries in the region, Driesen said.

In April, its smaller neighbor Uruguay became the first Latin American country to deploy 5G for commercial purposes. “And Mexico is also one to two years ahead of Brazil,” the executive said, adding it will still be possible to catch up if the auction scheduled for March 2020 occurs on time. Some industry watchers fear it could be postponed since rules for the process are still being defined.

Local regulatory agency Anatel is still determining the rules for the 5G auction after deciding in May that both 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequencies would be allocated to 5G. Other bands like 26 GHz and 700 MHz could also be added to the auction.

Driesen said the telecoms industry could also benefit from a change in Brazilian legislation governing towers and antennas, a longtime demand of the sector.

“Good 5G coverage worldwide normally requires five times more towers, but here the rules vary from a city to another, making the whole process very complicated,” he said.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by David Gregorio