By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Brazilian telecoms regulator ANATEL says Wi-Fi 6 – and specifically the 6 GHz band – is “an alternative to 5G”. The statement came in an interview with spectrum policy publication PolicyTracker released earlier this week. Last month Brazil took the first steps towards releasing the full 6 GHz band to unlicensed use.
With the FCC releasing 1.2 GHz of new spectrum to Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz this past April, international momentum for 6 GHz Wi-Fi is picking up. Last month Brazilian regulator Anatel took a first step towards releasing the full 6 GHz to Wi-Fi and – as previously reported here on Wi-Fi NOW news – Brazil could become only the second country to follow the US’ example.
It now appears that Wi-Fi 6 – and subsequently the case for 6 GHz Wi-Fi – is indeed receiving strong regulatory support from Brazilian regulator Anatel. In an interview with spectrum policy publication PolicyTracker from earlier this week, interim commissioner of ANATEL Carlos Baigorri said “Wi-Fi 6 can potentially become an alternative to 5G” and that “Wi-Fi is the most popular way to access the internet and it is the most democratic way of bridging the digital gap we have in Brazil.”
According to PolicyTracker the next regulatory step for 6 GHz Wi-Fi in Brazil is issuing a document with proposed technical conditions for releasing the band. This will likely happen within a couple of months and then follows a public consultation period. PolicyTracker reports that a final decision on 6 GHz Wi-Fi is unlikely to happen before 2021.
Although Europe and especially the UK may well release parts of the 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi before then (specifically the lower 500 MHz part of the spectrum), this would still make Brazil only the second country to release the full 1.2 GHz of spectrum.
With a population of about 210 million, the market for 6 GHz Wi-Fi could expand beyond the current US market with as much as 25-30% following a positive decision by ANATEL. Brazil currently has around 30 million fixed broadband connections corresponding to a household penetration rate of less than 50%. According to this resource Brazil ranks fifth in the world for Internet users with close to 150 million Brazilians active online.