An auction of 5G spectrum in Brazil could be delayed by 12 months as regulator Anatel remains embroiled in a dispute over the rules of the process, Financial Times (FT) reported.

The auction was scheduled to be held in March, but this was pushed to at least the end of the year: analysts told FT a Q1 2021 date was more likely.

An official timeline could be revealed in February when Anatel’s board meets, but a public consultation and judicial review still need to be held. A representative for Anatel said the consultations had been postponed and there was no timetable for the auction to be held at this stage.

Vendor wait
The delay represents a setback for major equipment vendors, which are expected to bid for lucrative contracts to supply 5G equipment and infrastructure to operators in the country.

In mid-2019, Nokia’s Latin America CTO Wilson Cardoso told Mobile World Live Brazil would be home to the world’s biggest auction of 5G suitable frequencies.

Ericsson also had high hopes for the country, announcing in November 2019 it would invest BRL1 billion ($244 million) to manufacture 5G kit.

It was among the first to express its disappointment about the delay, with Tiago Machado, director of government relations for Ericsson LatAm South, telling FT politicians and regulators must “take proper measures to make sure this goes forward in a timely manner”.

The delay could have one positive, by providing Brazil’s government more time to decide if it will allow Huawei to participate in 5G network builds.

Brazil is one of many countries facing from pressure from the US to ban the Chinese vendor on security grounds.