Nearly two years after its original intended start date, Mexico has finally launched the render for its wholesale mobile network project, Reuters reported.
The winner of the project will be awarded a 20-year public-private partnership to build an LTE network that must cover a minimum of 85 percent of the population. Though the winner will gain access to prime spectrum in the 700 MHz band, it will not be permitted to sublet those airwaves, Reuters reported.
According to estimates from the Mexican government, the buildout to 85 percent coverage would cost around $3.5 billion, while an expansion to 95 percent would run around double that figure.
Mexico’s telecommunications regulator said less than half of Mexicans currently have mobile broadband subscriptions and only 22 percent of all mobile data is carried on 4G LTE networks.
The country’s telecom minister Monica Aspe told Reuters the government will seek to decrease costs and accelerate the rollout by opening up thousands of sites on its buildings available for rent to telecom companies. Infrastructure may also be rented from Telesites and American Tower, she said.
Aspe said there is no limit to who can participate in the tender, but noted operators will be vetted with a “fair competition test” in mid-May.
The tender could present an opportunity for U.S.-based wireless carrier AT&T, which has sought to expand its presence in Mexico following its purchase of Mexican wireless companies Iusacell and Nextel Mexico.
During its fourth quarter earnings report, the carrier said it has expanded its high-speed mobile internet network to cover 44 million people in 41 cities throughout the country. The carrier also reported 593,000 wireless net additions during the quarter and pledged to invest an additional $3 billion from 2015 to 2018 to deploy a high-speed mobile network in the country.
Reports have indicated that Spanish wireless carrier Telefonica SA has also sought to increase its presence in Mexico, and is open to exploring agreements with rival carriers in order to expand its network in the country.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)