The Mexican government reportedly received the first bid to build a proposed state-owned mobile network aimed at curbing the dominance of American Movil.
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 which is estimated to require investment of around $10 billion over 10 years.
A tender for the project has not yet been issued but the government intends to decide who will construct the network by the middle of 2015, according to one source.
The consortium is understood to be looking to secure funding and an industrial partner for the proposal, with the World Bank’s International Finance Corp private-sector investment arm believed to be providing assistance.
A representative of Mexico’s telecommunications and transport ministry confirmed to Reuters that a bid had been received. Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson declined to comment.
According to Reuters, the state-owned network would potentially help Telefonica and Iusacell compete more effectively with 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.
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.
President Enrique Pena Nieto is focusing on telecoms as a sector that could boost economic growth and has made the mobile network project part of the constitution with a completion date of late 2018.
The government declared that America Movil is dominant in March, allowing it to impose tighter regulation on the group, outlined in April.
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.