Meet the man charged with bringing down America Movil’s dominance in Mexico.
Thaddeus Arroyo was appointed as CEO of AT&T Mexico in January 2015 and immediately made his mark by acquiring two smaller carriers in the country, allowing for the company’s entrance into the mobile market.
Arroyo pounced on a string of regulatory reforms announced in 2013 and implemented in 2014, designed to promote competition, by acquiring smaller players Iusacell and Nextel for a combined $4.4 billion.
Since then, the company, such a force in the US, has been fighting for market share, while building its position in the country as an alternative to market leader America Movil, and other international rival Telefonica.
Speaking to Mobile World Live, Arroyo continues to be optimistic, stating that “this is just the beginning” for the company in Mexico, as he opened up on the company’s wider aims to transform the entire country through connectivity.
“Eventually, we’ll create an environment that allows us to connect everything in our world. Homes and cars will be an extension of smartphones and tablets,” he said. “We’ll connect utility metres, street lights and water systems changing how we use energy and preserving natural resources. The impact of such a connected world, and on the Mexican economy and quality of life, will be immense.”
In the interview, Arroyo said the company is now heads down on “positioning AT&T as a better alternative in Mexico”, as he addresses increasing competition, his big competitor, and the current review of the 2013 reforms, which he believes is an “opportunity to strengthen them, and accelerate change”.
MWL: How satisfied are you with progress made since entering Mexico last year?
Arroyo: As I sit here, a year into our journey as a combined company, we’re already seeing a positive consumer response. We’ve taken two companies that were under invested, and turned them into a growing business. We ended 2015 on a growth trajectory that continues today. The environment remains very competitive and we’re prepared to continue positioning AT&T as a better alternative in Mexico.
MWL: Are you happy with the pace of change in the market, with regulatory reforms designed to reduce the dominance of market leader America Movil?
Arroyo: The potential of the 2013 reforms made Mexico a very attractive place to invest, as it sought to level the playing field in an industry with a single player holding a dominant concentration of the market. We would not have invested in Mexico without these regulatory reforms and the creation of IFT as an independent entity with the autonomy, power and tools to ultimately reinforce these reforms.
We continue to believe there is great potential here in Mexico. Our goal is a true, dynamic, competitive marketplace over the long-term. Unlike past efforts, the IFT has a historic opportunity to ensure the reforms have a lasting effect. There is no doubt IFT has the necessary tools and leadership to do this and we are confident that the IFT will take appropriate measures to ensure that the goals of the 2013 reforms are attained.
With the true success of these reforms, Mexican consumers and businesses will benefit and the country as a whole will enjoy economic growth. Ultimately, Mexico will send a clear signal to future investors that its growth trajectory and investment potential is sustainable. This is why we are at a historic moment with the current biannual review of the reform measures’ effectiveness. It’s an opportunity to strengthen them and accelerate this change.
MWL: How much of a challenge is it to appeal to customers that are currently with the market leader?
Arroyo: Clearly, the environment remains competitive, and we’re prepared to continue positioning AT&T as a better alternative in Mexico.
For us, the biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity in reaching a base of customers that for many years has lacked compelling options. We are tasked with clearly communicating the potential of our 4G LTE network to unleash new possibilities for businesses and consumers, and communicate the commitment that we have to serve this market in new ways – which is all about connecting people to their world everywhere they live and work.
We will continue to be aggressive, but our value proposition goes beyond price.
We’re looking at the bigger picture when differentiating AT&T from other competitors. Our strategy focuses on building a better network in more places, expanding our distribution to reach a larger customer base, and attaching a world-class customer experience. That’s the model we’ll continue to build on in Mexico.
We’re in a good position with a growing and healthy customer base. And we’ll continue to build on our strengths. That’s what I mean about stability; it requires operators to look at all of the dimensions in their value proposition.
MWL: What new services do you believe you can bring to the Mexican market?
Arroyo: We’re committed to offering customers better options: simple and transparent plans, more data, unlimited calls and text messages, included social networks, and freedom of using these benefits automatically in the US and Canada at no additional cost. This is just the beginning. Eventually, we’ll create an environment that allows us to connect everything in our world. Homes and cars will be extensions of smartphones and tablets. We’ll connect utility meters, street lights, and water systems changing how we use energy, and
preserving natural resources.
“This is just the beginning. Eventually, we’ll create an environment that allows us to connect everything in our world.”
The impact of such a connected world, on the Mexican economy and quality of life, will be immense. Mexican consumers and businesses deserve access to the latest innovation.
MWL: In terms of customer demands, what are the synergies between the US and Mexico?
Arroyo: Our wireless operation in Mexico gives us an exciting opportunity in a part of the world that is in the early growth stages of mobile internet adoption and use.
It’s a growing economy that interconnects with the US in so many ways, both culturally and economically. The cross-border opportunities this opens up are exciting from both a consumer and a business standpoint. Providing high-quality service is what has made us successful in the US, where we operate a world-class mobile network. We look forward to bringing those capabilities and more competition to Mexico.
MWL: Would AT&T consider additional acquisitions to beef up presence in the market and would you welcome more competition?
Arroyo: Our top priority is to bring an improved mobile internet experience for customers and more competition and choices for customers. At the moment our priority is developing our current wireless network in Mexico.
It has been proven that the most efficient way to bring more competition, more advanced mobile networks to a country’s consumers and businesses is through free and open markets, and private investment. We cannot predict what other companies will do, but we are committed to bringing more competition to Mexico and raising the bar on mobile Internet service for Mexican consumers and businesses.
MWL: Can you give our readers a background on your career?
Arroyo: During most of my career I’ve been in the technology and telecommunication industries. Prior to joining AT&T as CIO of Cingular Wireless, I was at Sabre Corporation as VP of Product Marketing and Development.
In January 2007 I became part of AT&T following the close of the merger between AT&T, BellSouth, and Cingular. AT&T has been a great company to grow personally and professionally. I’ve been appointed to positions that have allowed me to lead the transformation and integration of technology and business strategies to create new value and velocity for AT&T, our customers, and our partners. I was appointed to my current position as chief executive officer of AT&T in Mexico in January 2015, and I can only say that this has been a great opportunity and a growing experience.
Acquiring and integrating two companies has been a challenging but gratifying experience as we’ve seen the positive impact for our customers. It’s exciting to be part of a transformation of this magnitude during such a historical moment for the telecommunication industry in Mexico.