ANATEL, Brazil’s telecommunications agency, today announced a list of 15 applications for Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction, which includes a number of digital infrastructure companies such as DigitalBridge’s Highline do Brasil and several of Brazil’s largest internet service providers (ISPs).

Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction encompasses ~3.7 GHz of spectrum depth in the 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz, and 26 GHz frequency bands.

Auction Applications – Brazil’s 5G Spectrum

ANATEL has received applications for Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction from wireless carriers, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), internet service providers (ISPs), and private equity firms. Below is a list of the 15 applicants by type of company:

  • Wireless Carriers: Vivo (Telefônica Brasil), Claro (América Móvil), TIM Brasil (Telecom Italia), Algar Telecom, Sercomtel Telecomunicações
  • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs): Neko Serviços de Comunicações (Surf Group / Yon Moreira), VDF Tecnologia da Informação (Datora Telecom)
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Brisanet Telecomunicações, Consórcio 5G Sul (consortium including Unifique and Copel), Brasil Digital Telecomunicações (BRFibra), Mega Net Provedor de Internet e Comércio de Informática (Iniciativa 5G), Fly Link
  • Private Equity: NK 108 Empreendimentos e Participações (DigitalBridge-backed Highline do Brasil), Winity II Telecom (Pátria Investments)
  • Other: Cloud2U Indústria e Comércio de Equipamentos Eletrônicos (Greatek; fiber optic equipment company)

On November 4, 2021, ANATEL will publicize each applicant’s spectrum pricing proposal and declare the winners. Following spectrum allocations, winning bidders must offer 5G services in all of Brazil’s state and federal capitals by July 2022.

Digital Infrastructure

Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction is drawing interest from internet service providers (ISPs), tower companies (e.g., Highline), and digital infrastructure private equity firms. For example, these companies include:

  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Brisanet and Unifique are two of Brazil’s largest ISPs. These ISPs are alternatives to Brazil’s wireless carriers, which also offer fixed broadband services. Indeed, many ISPs elected to participate in Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction as part of a consortium
  • Highline do Brasil: portfolio company of Digital Colony Partners I, a private equity fund of DigitalBridge. Highline also has backing from Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), a Canadian pension fund
  • Pátria Investments: currently an investor in ODATA, a Latin American data center operator. Additionally, Pátria Investments was previously an investor in Highline do Brasil

Implications for Tower Companies

Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction winners will be responsible for purchasing and installing 5G equipment, meaning new basebands, radios, and antennas. In most cases, this 5G equipment will be deployed on tower infrastructure, to transmit the new 5G frequencies.

Given ANATEL’s 5G deployment deadline of July 2022, tower activity in Brazil will begin in 2022, with acceleration in 2023+.

Independent Tower Companies in Brazil

Global independent tower companies with a presence in Brazil will benefit from Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction. Specifically, these tower companies, ordered by number of sites in Brazil, are American Tower (23.2k sites), SBA Communications (9.9k sites), Grupo TorreSur (6.0k sites), IHS Towers (4.4k sites), and Highline do Brasil (~3.5k sites).

Additionally, América Móvil is in the process of spinning-off of its telecommunications towers via Sitios Latinoamérica, which will ultimately hold 12.5k sites in Brazil. While not entirely independent, Sitios Latinoamérica will be seeking third-party (i.e., non-América Móvil) lease-up opportunities more aggressively in the future.

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