SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Anatel president Carlos Baigorri said on Tuesday that the best solution for fixed telephony concession contracts is “an end without litigation”, but that this does not depend only on the agency, but on the interest of the concessionaires themselves and the regulatory agents.
The concession contracts of the so-called Fixed Commuted Telephone Service (STFC) expire in 2025 and currently concessionaires, including Telefônica Brasil and Oi, and Anatel are fighting disputes in arbitration chambers over requests by companies for financial rebalancing of contracts.
As there is “no guarantee” that the end will occur without legal disputes, according to Baigorri, Anatel is working in parallel on a proposal for an “adaptation regulation”, which should be presented next week by the agency’s advisor Artur de Oliveira at an extraordinary meeting, before being referred to the Federal Audit Court (TCU).
“We are waiting for the arbitration issue and in parallel we have to fulfill our role, as a regulator, which is to guarantee the continuity of the STFC in the public regime”, said Baigorri, during the Telebrasil telecommunication forum.
“Considering the times and movements of adaptation to the new regulation and arbitration, we are imagining that the closure of all these variables will be for 2024. And we cannot wait to take action in 2024”, said the president of Anatel when asked about the future of the STFC.
“As a plan B, we must at some point in the meantime initiate a public consultation for a new bidding process, so that a new concessionaire can take over the service from January 1, 2026, in case the current concessionaires no longer want to provide the service or don’t adapt,” he said.
“We can’t keep this pineapple in hand and hand it over to the State to provide the service (fixed telephony) because the way it is today, the set of rules, if you don’t have a private provider as of January 1, 2026, the State is the ultimate service provider,” he added.
According to him, Anatel will have to find new concessionaires if current companies do not want to keep providing the service and the challenge is “how to design a concession that is viable and attractive in a post-2025 world”.
(By Alberto Alergi Jr.)