Altan named winner of 700MHz wholesale network tender

18 Nov 2016

Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transport (Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes, SCT), has selected Altan – a consortium including Axtel, Megacable, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Dutch and Chinese investors – as the winner of its ‘Red Compartida’ 700MHz wholesale network tender. Altan was left as the only eligible bidder after its sole competitor, New York-based Rivada Networks, was disqualified earlier this month for failing to meet the necessary financial obligations to compete. Rivada disputed the decision, though the Mexican government and Altan maintain that the selection process was transparent and impartial.

TeleGeography notes that the shared 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 called for groups of private companies to bid for the right to build and run the network, which will rent capacity to mobile providers. Current government assumptions price the overall project at around USD7 billion, down from an original USD10 billion ten-year projection, with the number of cell towers likely to be closer to 12,000 than the initially forecast 20,000 – delivering coverage to 85% of the population within five years.

Altan’s proposal offered to provide coverage to 92.2% of the population via the network, just over the 85.0% minimum stipulated. The consortium now has until 27 January 2017 to sign a contract with the government’s newly created Agency for the Promotion of Investment In Telecommunications (Organismo Promotor de Inversiones en Telecomunicaciones, PROMTEL), which will secure the frequencies from the sector regulator and oversee the project. The wholesale network is scheduled to be operational by 31 March 2018, by which date it must cover at least 30% of the country’s population.