Mexican media company Grupo Televisa and mobile operator partner NII Holdings (Nextel) have been approved as buyers at Mexico’s most recent spectrum auction, winning a nationwide allocation of 30MHz in the 1710MHz to 2170MHz frequency band – although there is still one more level of government assent needed before all of the hurdles have been cleared. The frequencies will give the partners the capacity needed to offer 3G services, in order to compete with market leader America Movil, and commercial launches are expected to take place within the next year. So far, America Movil is the only operator in the country to have deployed a 3G network, although second-placed Telefonica is expected to begin its deployment imminently, having also recently been awarded frequencies. America Movil says that it intends rolling-out next generation network technology in order to keep ahead of its rivals, as they begin deploying their 3G infrastructure.
The auction process has drawn criticism from a number of camps, primarily on the grounds that the Televisa/NII alliance was able to bid low for the spectrum because it was the only party qualified to apply for the nationwide block; while several international groups, including China Mobile, Reliance Communications and Deutsche Telekom had expressed an interest, they were deterred due to concerns about the ability to create competition in a market dominated by America Movil. Bloomberg reported that Televisa/Nextel will pay MXN180.3 million (US$14.3 million), compared with the MXN3.8 billion that America Movil is paying for 20MHz nationwide with an additional 10MHz in three regions. Televisa has already agreed a deal to acquire a 30 percent stake in Nextel Mexico, the local operating business of NII Holdings, which was conditional on the joint spectrum bid being successful. A unit of Spain’s Telefonica also won six 10MHz blocks in six regions with a MXN1.27 billion bid during the latest auctions.