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UPDATE 1-Brazil says new 4G mobile band not ready for World Cup
April 11, 2013 / 2:40 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil says new 4G mobile band not ready for World Cup

* Visitors may have to buy local chip or settle for 3G
    * FIFA sees telecom readiness among major challenges

    By Alonso Soto and Leonardo Goy
    BRASILIA, April 11 (Reuters) - Visitors to Brazil for the
2014 soccer World Cup will not be able to use the latest
wireless technology operating on a frequency used widely in the
United States and Europe, the head of telecom regulator Anatel
told Reuters.
    Anatel president Jõao Rezende said in an interview that the
700 MHz spectrum won't be ready for the big event. Instead, he
said, tourists can buy local 4G chips that will work on Brazil's
2.5 GHz network - or settle for slower service.
    Uncertainty about the readiness of Brazil's wireless network
has added to concerns among organizers, who have also spoken out
about lagging transportation investments and missed deadlines
for construction of stadiums.
    Last June Brazil auctioned rights to fourth-generation (4G)
operations in the 2.5 GHz spectrum, requiring that mobile
carriers have the new technology ready in the host cities for
the World Cup and this year's Confederations Cup, a dress
rehearsal for the big event.
    Some in the industry had held out hope that Brazil would
also free up the lower 700 MHz frequency for mobile phones in
time for fans' arrival. Smartphones designed for one 4G
frequency will not always work on another, forcing users to
settle for 3G coverage.
    "People will end up buying a chip here," Azende said in an
interview at his offices. "Aside from corporate transmissions,
the average consumer will avoid roaming ... The barrier isn't
technological, it's financial."
    Brazilian regulators are working to transition television
broadcasts out of the 700 MHz spectrum to allow wireless
carriers to use lower band, which requires fewer antennas for
the same coverage compared with the 2.5 GHz band. 
    FIFA spokesman Walter de Gregorio told journalists on
Wednesday that wireless infrastructure was among the top
concerns ahead of the World Cup.
    "One of the big challenges I see is telecommunications. We
rely on what they say and they say it will be ready," said
Gregorio. "Maybe they should fix 3G first. Maybe they will jump
from 2G to 4G."

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