Salinas-backed TotalPlay eyes Mexican wholesale network

6 Jul 2015

TotalPlay, the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) provider owned by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas, is considering participating in the government’s upcoming tender for a USD7 billion wholesale mobile network, CEO Eduardo Kuri told Reuters late last week. The network, which will have exclusive use of a 90MHz block of spectrum in the 700MHz band, was written into Mexico’s constitution in 2013 as part of a sector overhaul designed to curb the dominance of America Movil (AM)-backed Telcel. The plan calls for groups of private companies to bid for the right to build and run the network, which would lease capacity to mobile providers.

TeleGeography notes that the move would represent something of a volte face, given Grupo Salinas’ recent mobile market exit strategy. In November 2014 the conglomerate entered into an agreement with US telecoms giant AT&T to sell 100% of mobile operator Iusacell for USD2.5 billion. The acquisition took place after Grupo Salinas closed its previously announced deal to purchase the 50% of Iusacell that it did not already own, from co-owner Grupo Televisa.

TotalPlay, which initially operated as a subsidiary of Iusacell, before being spun off, launched in Mexico City in November 2010. In February 2015 the ISP unveiled plans to invest USD400 million in the extension of its footprint to a total of 22 cities, while TotalPlay expects to pass six million homes by the end of 2016. The company’s user base remains modest, however, standing at just 200,000 residential subscribers and 50,000 corporate clients.