AT&T’s Mexico chief executive Thaddeus Arroyo backed regulation placed on the country’s market leader America Movil, claiming “the asymmetric rules are necessary”.
Arroyo’s comments came during a news conference yesterday, reports Wall Street Journal (WSJ), where the company announced plans to begin rebranding services in the country, following the acquisition of Mexican operators Grupo Iusacell and NII Holdings earlier this year.
Mexican regulators introduced a range of reforms in 2013, designed to limit the dominance of market leader America Movil and afford more opportunities for foreign investors to enter the market.
In addition to AT&T’s Mexican acquisitions, worth approximately $4.4 billion, the company said in June it will invest $3 billion in Mexico to leverage its US network and make high-speed mobile networks available to 100 million people by the end of 2018.
As part of the plans, Mexican customers will also be able to use their own mobile tariffs while in the US to call friends or family on an AT&T network at no extra charge. Rivals, including America Movil and T-Mobile US, launched similar offers soon after.
“Many of the plans you’re seeing now, when did they arrive? They arrived when we came to bring more competition,” said Arroyo.
America Movil held roughly 70 per cent market share in the country, and an even greater 80 per cent in the fixed space, when the reforms were first touted two years ago.
But despite the changes, Arroyo believes more needs to be done. “Things haven’t changed a lot. We are here to change it,” he said. “We have less than 9 per cent of the market, 68 per cent of the market is still totally in one company.”
According to GSMA Intelligence, America Movil has just over 73 million connections in the country, with AT&T boasting just over 8.5 million. Telefonica, which has also benefitted from the reforms, has 23 million, a 14 per cent increase from last year, according to WSJ.
As part of AT&T’s rebrand in Mexico, the company said it will rename Iusacell and Nextel stores by the end of the year, and will gradually move both brands to AT&T premium services. It will however retain the Unefon brand, which is part of Iusacell for low end prepaid users.