Triple-play finally coming to Mexico

5 Oct 2006

Mexico’s Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) has introduced its long-awaited legislation allowing for the launch of the country’s first true triple-play voice, internet and TV services. The change in regulations will allow Mexico’s numerous cable operators to launch local telephony services over their own networks for the first time, and provides for telephony providers to enter the TV market in return. Under the rules, the Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel) has 75 days to draft interconnection regulations for cable TV operators and phone companies, and amend operating concessions to provide for the provision of additional services. Cofetel must also to decide whether operators should be charged for their entry to a new market.

The opening of the telephony and TV sectors is part of a 36-point plan that outgoing President Vicente Fox set out in 2005 to increase competition in the country’s telecoms and media markets. Up until now, cable operators could only provide local and long-distance services via lines leased from traditional telecoms operators. In April 2006 the SCT issued its draft triple-play convergence bill allowing for the provision of direct voice telephony by cable operators. Coftel added recommendations that incumbent fixed line operator Telmex be allowed to enter the TV arena in return, and the bill received the approval of the federal regulatory improvement commission (Comisión Federal de Mejora Regulatoria — Cofemer) in July. In the interim, a growing number of companies had been sidestepping the restrictions by offering fixed line and CATV services via agreements with operators in other markets, leading to joint venture initiatives between cablecos and alternative fixed line operators providing triple-play voice, internet and CATV services.