Mexican mobile spectrum auction faces delay

5 Feb 2010

A court in Mexico has accepted an appeal by MVS Comunicaciones and Iusacell to suspend the auction of mobile spectrum in the 1850MHz-1990MHz and 1710MHz-2170MHz bands, BNamericas reports. It is understood that the two operators have claimed that the bidding rules, which were released last month, are unfair, with MVS arguing that the Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) should first renew its licences in the 2.5GHz band before the process begins. The wireless sector’s largest operator by subscribers, Telcel, has also voiced its discontent with the bidding rules, with Daniel Hajj, CEO of America Movil, Telcel’s parent company, noting: ‘They [the regulator] are letting us participate in some regions to bid for 20MHz and in others for 30MHz. We’re working to define which frequencies where we need to buy spectrum. Yes, we’re interested in participating in this auction, though we’re not 100% happy with the rules.’

Under the current terms of bidding the government will offer a total of 120MHz split into two blocks; it will make available nine blocks of spectrum in the 1850MHz-1990MHz band in eight of the country’s nine mobile operating regions, while a further seven blocks between 1710MHz and 2179MHz will be offered in all nine regions in a separate auction. A cap of 80MHz per operator will also be imposed.

Despite this initial court ruling, Gonzalo Martinez, commissioner of telecoms regulator Cofetel, said that until a final decision had been made the existing auction date stands – the deadline for submissions is 25 May 2010. A further hearing will be held on 8 February, and within 24 hours of that date the court will most likely rule on whether or not to suspend the sale process definitively.