Telefónica lining up 5G core vendors for Brazil

Telefónica has indicated that it is moving away from Huawei in Brazil, confirming that Telefônica Vivo is working with existing group partners Mavenir, Nokia and Oracle on its upcoming standalone 5G network.

The Spain-based operator also said it has "validated" AWS Outposts as an "effective infrastructure option" for Vivo as it rolls out 5G. Furthermore, it is using network test solutions from Spirent Communications and Spirent's regional partner Netmetrix.

Conexis Brasil Digital, which represents the largest telcos in the country, has previously reported that Vivo was using Huawei equipment in 65% of its networks. Claro's equipment is 55% from Huawei, while Oi has 60% and TIM has 45%.


Strategic call: Telefónica's latest 5G starting line-up confirms Huawei has left the pitch and is unlikely to return. (Source: Pedro Céu on Unsplash)

Brazil's telecoms regulator Anatel approved the rules for the 5G spectrum auction in February.

Although it was reported at the time that no specific curbs were being applied on vendors, the rules include "costly conditions" that require operators to build standalone 5G networks from the get-go, rather than passing through the interim step of building 4G-anchored, non-standalone 5G networks.

Although perhaps a more expensive option initially, a move to 5G standalone makes it easier for operators to jettison past suppliers and embrace new partners that are not quite as geopolitically sensitive as the likes of Huawei.

Vivo has already carried out demonstrations of standalone 5G calls with Finland's Nokia, according to local media reports in April. Furthermore, the operator has collaborated with both Altiostar and Mavenir on open radio access network (RAN) pilots in Brazil, as part of Telefónica's broader focus on open RAN.

Meanwhile, Brazil looks set to be the second Telefónica market after Germany to deploy AWS Outposts, described as an edge cloud infrastructure designed to enable service providers to operate the full suite of Amazon Web Services (AWS) tools and services on premises.

Telefónica Germany's 5G network partner Ericsson has previously explained that it is able to use AWS Outposts with its 5G core network to bring low-latency capabilities directly to its customers' enterprise networks.

Cayetano Carbajo Martin, director of core, service platforms and transport at Telefónica, said the validation of AWS Outposts means that "Telefónica has reached a clear milestone in its 5G plans in Brazil and also for its deployment strategy in the group, where cloud native 5G platforms allow a wide range of private and public infrastructure options."

Waiting for spectrum

Vivo launched an early 5G network in July last year, utilizing dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology from Ericsson and Huawei, and making use of surplus 3G and 4G spectrum.

However, Brazil's auction of 5G-friendly spectrum has repeatedly been delayed, and is now expected to take place in around June or July this year.

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.

To add insult to injury, Brazilian news site Teletime reported in May that Brazilian Communications Minister Fabio Faria sent a letter to mobile operators requesting them to stop using the 5G icon in network identification when the handset is connected to a 5G DSS network.

The minister apparently said that the icon should only be used when the 5G standalone networks are activated.