A series of pilots are planned for a proposed state-owned shared network in Mexico, which has the aim of boosting wireless competition in the country, according to El Financiero.
The Ministry of Communications and Transport in Mexico will conduct the tests using the 700MHz band in order to gather technical information that can be used in the bidding process to determine which companies will build the network.
The state-owned network could potentially help Telefonica and Iusacell compete more effectively with the dominant America Movil by enabling them to boost their coverage without the need to build their own infrastructure. There is also the prospect that MVNOs would use the network.
An official tender for the project has not yet been issued but El Financiero suggested the bidding process is expected to take place in November. A Reuters source previously said the government will decide who will construct the network by the middle of 2015.
The regulator indicated to the publication that 10 companies will take part in the testing programme, with each operator given a specific location in which they will test.
The tests will encompass compatibility and technical efficiency with the aim of finding out which vendors have the best technical capabilities.
The government body also said it will soon sign an agreement with Mexico’s telecoms regulator Ifetel to establish a timescale for the project, which is estimated to require investment of around $10 billion over 10 years.
It was reported last week that the government had received the first bid for the proposed network. According to Reuters sources, an unnamed consortium, which has received input from infrastructure companies Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, submitted a bid to build the network.
Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei is also believed to be interested in playing a role with the network in Mexico, separate to Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent. It has reportedly had several meetings with officials about the possibility.
Mexico’s government is working hard to break America Movil’s dominance: the Carlos Slim-controlled operator has a 70 per cent share of the mobile market via Telcel, and an 80 per cent share of the fixed market with Telmex.
For its part, America Movil said in July that it would reduce its mobile market share to 50 per cent through asset sales.
As part of this, the company is believed to have approached a number of operator groups regarding the sale of mobile assets in adjoining states along the east coast of Mexico.