Opinion: With 5G, operators’ current business model becomes archaic

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The 5G auction held by Anatel opens the way for new investments in technology. Coincidentally, in 2022 the cartoon “The Jetsons” turns 60, an animation that told the daily life of a family from the year 2062. Futuristic and prophetic drawing, “The Jetsons” predicted moving walkways, smartwatches, smart houses, robots. housecleaning, tanning beds, drones and many other things that ended up becoming reality. The 5G, at times, seems like an approximation of reality for the Jetson family, but that shouldn’t happen so quickly.

The most revolutionary promises depend not only on connectivity, but also on regulation, technology or financial viability. We will not see, in the short term, autonomous cars or internet surgery, but we will see more people connected, which is fantastic when thinking about digital inclusion.

The great social gain of the 5G auction happens, however, in 4G, with the forecast of covering 95% of the urban area of ​​the municipalities that do not have this access yet. It is the arrival of 4G that will allow the real insertion of people in the environment of the economy and digital services. There is also provision for resources to universalize high-speed internet connection in schools, in case proposals are presented in the 26GHz band, a band that allows high speed, but a very limited range.

There is a forecast, considered difficult to come true by some people, of having 5G in all capitals in the middle of next year. This would be very good, if it didn’t come with a risk: increasing digital inequality. As there is the definition of the model called “standalone” for 5G, the telecoms will need a new infrastructure and it is to be imagined that this structure will be implemented in places with greater financial return, which means that, at least in a first Currently, the low number of antennas per inhabitant in poorer regions should not be remedied.

There is a promise of winning the competition, as many companies participated in the auction, but it is not possible to know if this will become a reality. In the national blocks, there were four winners, as it had been in the 700 MHz auction (the 4G auction). This time, Oi leaves — who did not submit a proposal in any block — and Winity enters, linked to an investment fund, Patria.

Most likely, the investment fund will build an open network, allowing other operators to use that network. This already exists today with MVNOs, virtual mobile network operators, such as Surf Telecom and Correios cell phone. Brisanet, an internet provider with a strong presence in the Brazilian Northeast, won lots in the Northeast and Midwest, and it is possible that it has a national operation using the Winity network.

More than the impacts on agro or industry, which have already been widely communicated, 5G should have a major impact on the business of the telecoms themselves. The business models we have today are going to become archaic. Fixed broadband sells speed (you buy 100, 200, 400 meg plans), while mobile connection sells data volume (you buy one, two, ten, 20 gig plans).

With mobile broadband offering faster speeds than fixed and with exponentially increasing data volumes — let’s move from 4k to 8k content quickly — none of the models that exist today are going to make much sense. It will be necessary for them to reinvent themselves.

It will also be necessary to reinvent the national economy, so that we can fully enjoy the possibilities of 5G. This is because we still don’t have specific applications for this technology, which will demand a high investment in research and development. We will need to change our cell phones, even some of the most modern cell phones do not have full compatibility with the standalone 5G model and may experience some loss of quality in calls.

At the 5G auction, we are finally seeing the universalization of 4G. We can only hope that we can move forward with the new technology before the rest of the world is already getting started with 6G. Although this week’s auction doesn’t take us into the world of the Jetsons, it at least reduces the delay and takes Brazil out of the Flintstones episode, that family of the stone age.

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