Cofetel announces seven interested parties for wireless auctions

18 Feb 2010

Following reports earlier this week that Mexican fixed line operators Axtel and Megacable, as well as local broadcast giant Grupo Televisa, have registered for the country’s upcoming wireless spectrum auctions, the Comision Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel) has revealed that the country’s two largest mobile operators by subscribers, Telcel and Telefonica Moviles Mexico (Movistar), have indicated they may also take part in the sale process. According to Bloomberg, a total of seven parties have expressed an official interest in the auction, which is due to be held on 25 May 2010; despite registering for the sale, at this stage this does not guarantee bids from the interested parties. Rounding out the seven applications are a joint application from eleven business units associated with mobile operator Iusacell and its controlling shareholder, Ricardo Salinas, alongside Monterrey-based fixed line voice provider VDT Communicaciones.

Both Telcel, owned by Latin American mobile giant America Movil, and Movistar, a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefonica, are prohibited from purchasing either of the two national blocks of spectrum set aside for new participants. However, both cellcos have instead indicated that they are looking to acquire additional spectrum with a view to boosting capacity for their respective mobile internet users.

As per previous reports, Televisa has registered to bid jointly with US-based NII Holdings’ local digital trunking operator Nextel de Mexico. If the partnership is successful in bagging spectrum then it has also been announced that Televisa will take a 30% stake in Nextel for around USD1.44 billion. Megacable meanwhile is believed to have signed up to the sale process with a view to keeping its options open; it has yet to confirm whether it will definitely bid.

Cofetel will now review the applications in order to determine whether all parties are qualified to take part in the bidding, while antitrust watchdog Comision Federal de Competencia (Cofeco) will also study each prospective bidder.