Legislation which will enhance competition in the Mexican telecoms sector has been backed by Congress, with the upper house yesterday giving final approval to the bill. According to the Wall Street Journal, the reforms, which were initially proposed by President Enrique Pena Nieto in March 2013, was approved by the Senate by a huge margin, with a 108 giving the go-ahead for the plans, while just three voted against it. However, the bill now still needs to be passed by a majority of state legislatures, though this is expected to be a formality, and it has been suggested that President Nieto will sign the bill into law in June this year.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, under the proposals a new telecoms regulator – the Federal Telecommunications Institute (FTI) – will be created, with the new body to have the power to order those companies adjudged to dominate their market to sell off assets. The new entity will also be able to limit companies from seeking to stall competition through continued litigation, with special courts expected to deal with regulatory disputes, and prohibit companies from blocking regulatory decisions through legal means while they are being challenged in court. The new regulatory body is now expected to be in operation by the end of 2013, while its first rulings are likely to be issued in the first half of 2014; under the new law, the FTI has six months from the date it is set up to determine which companies are dominant in their respective markets, and to take necessary measures to guarantee competitive conditions. Meanwhile, the state’s proposals will also lift restrictions on foreign ownership on companies providing fixed line telecommunication services, while the government is planning to set up a state-run carrier of carriers with a view to ensuring it meets its target of ensuring 70% of homes and 85% of businesses have access to the internet.