Hi Telecom plans triple-play by year-end

23 May 2006

Mexican cable TV and internet provider Hi Telecomunicaciones, formerly known as Telecable, has revealed plans to launch telephony services and make the transition to becoming a triple-play provider as soon as the regulatory regime allows it, according to BNamericas quoting local press. Hi Telecom will invest USD40 million in triple-play over the next five years, CEO Francisco Ramírez, told reporters. Over the past two years USD15 million has been spent upgrading the company’s network to allow two-way communications and it aims to provide telephony services to 15,000 users two years after launch.

However, Hi Telecom’s business plan rests on regulator Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel) granting it a direct telephony licence before the end of the year. Mexican CATV operators have been selling direct broadband services since 2003, but their entry into the telephony market has been delayed by restrictions meaning they can only provide local and long-distance services via lines leased from traditional telecoms operators. Last month the Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) issued draft legislation allowing for the provision of direct voice telephony by cable operators under a new triple-play licensing scheme, but there remains no timetable for implementation of the new regime. If it does not receive a voice permit as soon as expected, Hi Telecom may lease its infrastructure wholesale to licensed alternative telcos.

Hi Telecomunicaciones, which is owned by the Ramirez family, has about 350,000 CATV subscribers and more than 10,000 high-speed internet users. Ramirez said he expects the company’s TV and broadband customer bases to grow by around 15% and 50% over the next twelve months.