Brazil raised $8.4 billion in investments and license fees in an international tender to build and operate one of the world's biggest 5G data networks, Communications Minister Fabio Faria said Friday, hailing a "great success."
But Faria was upbeat at the close of the two-day auction, telling a news conference the result "beat all expectations."
Winning bids went to companies including Telecom Italia's local subsidiary, Tim; Spanish group Telefonica's Brazilian unit; and Claro, owned by Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim's America Movil.
Six newcomers to the Brazilian market also made winning bids and will now become mobile providers, which should increase competition and benefit consumers.
Brazil, Latin America's biggest economy, is looking to leverage so-called fifth-generation mobile technology to accelerate the development of its industrial and agribusiness sectors -- as well as bring super-fast internet to the cell phones of its 213 million people.
The tender, which drew 15 bidders in all, was for the right to build and operate different "blocks" of the frequency spectrum for 20 years.
Bidding for the latter excluded all equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, the target of US espionage accusations that had put Brazil in a bind, forcing it to navigate a tumultuous tech standoff between Beijing and Washington.
The two major world powers are also Brazil's largest trading partners and the country came under pressure from both sides over the ground rules for its 5G network.
That led it to postpone the tender from early 2021 as initially scheduled. Despite the postponement, analysts agreed with Faria that the tender came off well for Brazil.
Brazil hopes 5G technology will open new horizons for its economy, ranging from connected tractors and crop-monitoring drones for the booming agricultural sector to self-driving cars and telemedicine to bridge the sprawling South American country's infrastructure gaps.