5G Progress Report: Brazil


By Tom LeinsNov 28, 2023


Brazil’s multi-band 5G spectrum auction drew to a close in November 2021, generating total commitments of BRL47.2 billion ($8.5 billion).

The auction process attracted bids from a mixture of major players like Telefonica Brasil (Vivo), Claro Brasil, and TIM Brasil, established regional players such as Algar Telecom and Sercomtel, and a number of lesser-known participants.

Two years later, we examine the respective progress of Brazil’s 5G licensees. 

Claro Brasil

Spectrum Acquired: 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz, and 26GHz
5G Launch Date: July 2022
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: 5,690 (September 2023)
Total 5G Subscriptions: 6,189,799 (September 2023)

Two years after receiving its 5G licenses, Claro Brasil—the telco backed by regional powerhouse America Movil—is able to claim the country’s largest 5G subscription base. As of Q3 2023, there were around 6.2 million users connected to its 5G Standalone network.  

The “Big Three” operators all switched on their 5G networks in tandem, with synchronized launches in Brasília in July 2022

The “Big Three” operators all switched on their 5G networks in tandem, with synchronized launches in Brasília in July 2022. 

The 3.5GHz band is being freed up on a rolling basis, and to date a total of 2,456 towns and cities have been approved for 5G, equating to 156 million Brazilians, or 73% of the population.

For its part, Claro currently has 5,690 5G cell sites in service, giving it coverage of around 45% of the population.

Telefonica Brasil (Vivo)

Spectrum Acquired: 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz, and 26GHz
5G Launch Date: July 2022
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: 3,542 (September 2023)
Total 5G Subscriptions: 6,105,140 (September 2023)

Vivo—Brazil’s largest mobile operator by subscriptions—is keeping pace with Claro, with 6.1 million 5G accounts on its books.

Interestingly, Vivo’s 5G footprint is far smaller than Claro’s network, spanning 3,542 cell sites. Vivo is optimistic of boosting its 5G network via a long-gestating “industrial network exploitation contract” with Winity Telecom.

If the RAN sharing agreement comes to fruition, Vivo will gain access to 2×5MHz of Winity’s 2×10MHz spectrum holdings in 1,120 municipalities, in exchange for reciprocal access to its own network.

TIM Brasil

Spectrum Acquired: 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz, and 26GHz
5G Launch Date: July 2022
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: 7,590 (September 2023)
Total 5G Subscriptions: 3,776,205 (September 2023)

Like its chief rivals, TIM Brasil switched on its 3.5GHz 5G network in July 2022, and has gone on to deploy the country’s most expansive fifth-generation mobile network.

The network spans a whopping 7,590 cell sites, which is understood to provide coverage to around 45% of the population. This provides an indication of the level of rollout activity required to make 5G ubiquitous in Latin America’s largest telecom market.

Although it has made big inroads in terms of 5G infrastructure, TIM Brasil claimed just under 3.8 million 5G subscriptions, placing it well behind Claro and Vivo in the pecking order.

Brisanet Telecomunicacoes

Spectrum Acquired: 2.3GHz and 3.5GHz
5G Launch Date: August 2023
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: 309 (September 2023)
Total 5G Subscriptions: Undisclosed

Ceara-based ISP Brisanet acquired a trio of 5G licenses in November 2021’s spectrum auction: a pair of 80MHz 3.5GHz licenses covering the Northeast and the Midwest, alongside a 50MHz block of 2.3GHz spectrum covering the Northeast.

Huawei was selected as Brisanet’s 5G vendor in May 2022, and the telco switched on 4G/5G connectivity in August 2023 using the 2.3GHz band. It currently offers mobile access to a potential one million people across 24 cities via 309 cell sites. The company expects to cover five million people in 40 municipalities by end-2023, with that figure rising to 14 million by December 2024.

As per the terms of its 5G license, Brisanet is committed to activating fifth-generation mobile services in 1,437 cities with less than 30,000 inhabitants between 2026 and 2029, but is optimistic of fulfilling all regulatory requirements before the end of 2026.

Algar Telecom

Spectrum Acquired: 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz, and 26GHz
5G Launch Date: December 2021
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: 139 (September 2023)
Total 5G Subscriptions: Undisclosed

Algar secured 5G-suitable frequencies in the 2.3GHz, 3.5GHz, and 26GHz bands, going on to launch 5G Non Standalone services using the 2.3GHz band on December 15, 2021. From launch, the network covered selected parts of Uberlândia and Uberaba, as well as Franca in São Paulo.

Neither industry watchdog Anatel nor Algar Telecom have issued statistics regarding the uptake of the 5G services, although it is worth noting that Algar’s mobile network serves far more M2M/IoT accounts than it does mobile telephony customers.

Algar operates 139 5G cell sites spanning Uberlândia, Uberaba, and Franca, but is on course to boost its 5G footprint to cover 32 towns and cities by end-2023.


Spectrum Acquired: 3.5GHz (as part of Consorcio 5G Sul)
5G Launch Date: November 2023
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: Undisclosed; coverage of Garuva
Total 5G Subscriptions: Undisclosed

Alongside fellow fixed line operator Ligga Telecom (formerly known as Copel Telecom), Unifique successfully bid on a regional 3.5GHz license in November 2021’s 5G spectrum auction.

Via the “Consorcio 5G Sul” consortium, the companies agreed to pay BRL73.6 million for an 80MHz block of spectrum (3620MHz-3700MHz). However, “goodwill” of approximately BRL69 million will be converted into investment commitments serving locations in the south of the country. (Note: Unifique holds a 62.77% stake in the JV, while Copel owns the remaining 37.23% share.)

In April 2023, Unifique enlisted Chinese vendor ZTE to supply 5G equipment to support its network rollout. Unifique went on to launch 5G mobile technology on November 11, 2023, in Garuva (Santa Catarina).

By the end of 2029, Unifique intends to offer 5G connectivity in all municipalities with less than 30,000 inhabitants in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, in addition to other cities of interest, such as state capitals.

Ligga Telecom (formerly Copel Telecom)

Spectrum Acquired: 3.5GHz (as part of Consorcio 5G Sul)
5G Launch Date: FWA launch slated for November 2023 launch (unconfirmed)
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: 20 FWA cell sites 
Total 5G Subscriptions: Zero

Ligga Telecom (formerly Copel Telecom) is in the process of launching a 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) network in Manaus using its 3.5GHz spectrum.

CEO Adeodato Volpi Netto confirmed that the telco has deployed 20 FWA cell sites in District 1 of Manaus Free Trade Zone, using public lighting infrastructure to house its Nokia transmission equipment. The new network was earmarked to go live on November 20, 2023, but no official confirmation of the launch has been forthcoming.

Note: sister company Sercomtel successfully bid on a 1×80MHz block of 5G-suitable 3.5GHz spectrum covering the North and São Paulo; Sercomtel—which hasn’t actually upgraded its 3G networks to 4G—has yet to deploy any 5G infrastructure.

Winity Telecom

Spectrum Acquired: 700MHz
5G Launch Date: Pending; Winity is obliged to cover 250 unserved locations by December 2023
Total 5G Cell Sites Deployed: One (September 2023)
Total 5G Subscriptions: Zero

Finally, Winity Telecom—a holding company backed by alternative asset management firm Patria Investimentos—successfully bid on a national 2×10MHz 700MHz license in Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction. Winity paid BRL1.428 billion ($276.8 million), the highest bid for a single spectrum lot in the auction.

In September 2022, Winity enlisted Amdocs to support the rollout of its 4G and 5G networks across remote communities in Brazil. Then, in June 2023, it teamed up with satellite operator Hughes do Brasil (HughesNet) and regional player Algar Telecom to launch its “RuralChip” LTE pilot project.

The service went live on June 16, 2023, using Winity’s spectrum in the 700MHz band. The pilot took place in two Maranhão-based towns: Presidente Juscelino and Cururupu.

Hughes supplied each cell site with a high-capacity backhaul solution, while Algar offered the use of its network operations center and data center. Ericsson equipment was used in Presidente Juscelino, while the Cururupu cell site leveraged Nokia technology.

The newcomer plans to build 5,000 cell towers by 2029 and establish itself as Brazil’s first wholesale operator. More pressingly, however, Winity is obliged to cover 250 unserved locations by December 2023.

Winity is obliged to cover 250 unserved locations by December 2023.

Worryingly, Winity has only deployed a solitary 5G base station to date, and its broader rollout ambitions are likely to rely on the troubled network sharing deal it signed with Vivo coming to fruition. 


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Tom Leins

Tom Leins

Tom Leins is a Senior Research Analyst for TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. Based out of the company’s UK office, he also contributes to the company’s daily CommsUpdate newsletter, which includes his popular weekly MVNO Monday round-up. MVNO industry aside, Tom has developed a strong specialization in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean, tracking mergers and acquisitions, spectrum auctions, regulatory developments, market opportunities, and growth trends.