AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has suggested that it will likely be around 18 months before AT&T can deliver a ‘good, robust’ 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) experience beyond urban areas in Mexico. Speaking to Fierce Wireless at the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Stephenson claimed that AT&T will move quickly to deploy LTE in urban areas and on road transport links, but in rural areas and popular vacation spots ‘broad, ubiquitous coverage’ will not be achieved for some time.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, AT&T closed its USD1.88 billion takeover of Nextel Mexico in April, several months after it finalised a USD2.5 billion deal to purchase Mexican mobile operator Iusacell. Fierce Wireless claims that Iusacell controls between 20MHz and 25MHz of 800MHz spectrum, primarily in the southern half of the country, including Mexico City and Guadalajara, and an average of 39MHz of PCS spectrum on a nationwide basis. Meanwhile, Nextel is said to preside over 20MHz of 800MHz spectrum and 30MHz of AWS spectrum. Stephenson claims that the substantial frequencies give AT&T ‘a better spectrum position in Mexico than anybody’.
Meanwhile, in terms of opportunities elsewhere in Latin America, the CEO clarified that, if AT&T sees interesting businesses opportunities it will assess them, but right now the prime focus is on Mexico. The US telco has been strongly linked with a move into Colombia, a country which is in the process of preparing to stage its own multi-band spectrum auction. Credible reports emerged recently suggesting that AT&T will bid for 700MHz ‘Digital Dividend’ spectrum in the frequency auction later this year; the US telco launched its 700MHz LTE network in the US in September 2011.