A leading Mexican bank has estimated that the country’s 3G spectrum auctions scheduled for later this year could raise as much as US$1.5 billion, reports Dow Jones Newswires. “It’s probable that the auction of 3G spectrum takes place in the fourth quarter and could reach close to US$1 billion to US$1.5 billion,” Citigroup-owned Banamex said in a report. The local regulator, Cofetel, is to auction off spectrum in the 1.7GHz and 1.9GHz bands. Of the four existing mobile operators in the country, Banamex said it expects market-leader Telcel (America Movil), second-placed Telefonica Moviles Mexico and fourth-placed player NII Holdings (Nextel) to bid for licenses. However, it said that the country’s third-placed player Iusacell is unlikely to participate as it is in debt-restructuring talks with creditors.

According to the report, Cofetel is releasing sufficient spectrum in the 1.7GHz band to attract a new, nationwide operator. However, Banamex said the likelihood of a new foreign operator entering the market was low, noting the previous failed attempts by Verizon, Vodafone and France Telecom (Orange) to enter the Mexican market. The most likely new entrant, says the bank, is Mexican media conglomerate Grupo Televisa, a cable TV operator. “We believe the probability that Televisa enters the mobile telephony market is greater than 50 percent. We think the company is interested in adding mobile broadband to its existing service of broadband via cable,” Banamex said.