Cofetel to get more authority to boost competition

19 Nov 2003

Mexico is ready to give its telecoms industry watchdog the Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel) greater regulatory powers in a bid to improve competition in the sector and end years of bitter infighting between the authorities and the nation’s principal players. According to Reuters, the new rules for the Communications and Transport Minstry (SCT) are designed to increase fixed line teledensity – which languished at 14.6% at the end of 2002 – expand service coverage and insure that the country’s telecoms policy is not interrupted by changes in the government. The SCT will retain its control over frequency allocation and international issues, but Cofetel will be responsible for enforcement and sanctioning in the case of any dispute. Since being formed in 1996 Cofetel has drawn frequent criticism for lacking teeth to effect change and for failing to curb the power of dominant incumbent Telmex to enable newcomers to gain a toehold in the market. The regulator’s commissioner Abel Hibert welcomed the development saying that to date its role as the industry’s policeman had been very limited and that the body was ‘toothless’.