Mexican media conglomerate Grupo Televisa has canned plans to buy a 30 percent stake in NII Holding’s local mobile arm (Nextel), which would have seen it enter Mexico’s mobile sector. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the two firms agreed in February to join forces to buy 3G spectrum at auction and then deploy a 3G network. However, this agreement – and the equity investment – was scrapped this week by the companies without giving a reason. Both firms, however, appear intent on continuing their mobile plans separately. NII Holdings said in a separate release that it is going ahead with its plans to deploy the 3G network using the spectrum it won at auction, and expects to commercially launch in 12 to 18 months. NII plans to invest about US$1.5 billion in the new network. Meanwhile, a source at Televisa told Reuters: “We remain interested in the opportunity (of the mobile market) but we will keep our options open, that may, may not include a deal with Nextel.”
Nextel is the fourth-largest – and smallest – Mexican mobile operator and had around 3.2 million mobile connections in 3Q10, according to Wireless Intelligence data. It trails America Movil’s Telcel, Telefonica and Iusacell. However, its plan to gain pace on its larger rivals using the 3G spectrum it acquired has been hampered by a series of legal challenges from rival Iusacell questioning the legality of the 3G auction process. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iusacell has filed more than 70 lawsuits arguing that spectrum caps set by antitrust regulators kept other existing operators from bidding on the 30MHz nationwide block.