Bidders in Brazil’s 5G auction committed to spend more than BRL7.1 billion ($1.27 billion) on 5G licences during the first day of the sale, with the local units of Telefonica, Telecom Italia and America Movil among the big spenders.

Alongside the three largest operators in Brazil, Brisanet, Algar and Sercomtel were among nine companies to have won lots in the opening day of the sale, according to results for individual allocations published by regulator Anatel throughout the day.

In total 15 bidders qualified to take part in the sale, where so far each block of spectrum has well exceeded the initial reserve price placed on it.

The auction had been delayed several times as a debate raged on whether to allow operators to use Huawei equipment in the associated networks.

Launching the sale, Brazil minister of communications Fabio Faria said the country would have “the first 5G in Latin America” adding: “We are going to show the world that Brazil is in the digital economy, taking care of the digital transformation.”

In a document published last month the regulator placed an economic value of BRL50 billion on the allocations being sold, but noted only BRL9 billion would be retained by the government with the remainder to be spent on various projects expanding coverage and accessibility of digital services.

Anatel estimates operators must spend a total of BRL70 billion to meet the obligations of their licences for 5G, which include various coverage pledges.