IFT authorises Telcel to offer 5G services; promises ‘largest 5G network in LatAm’

11 Feb 2022

Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, IFT) has confirmed that it has authorised America Movil (AM)-backed Telcel to introduce 5G technology. In order to facilitate the company’s 5G ambitions, the watchdog has agreed to modify 18 fixed wireless access (FWA) concessions held by Radiomovil Dipsa (Telcel) for mobile use. In addition, the IFT has opted to switch the telco’s existing 3450MHz-3550MHz spectrum holdings for 3350MHz-3450MHz frequencies to avoid interference issues. As a result of licensing tweaks, Telcel will be obliged to pay the government an annual usage fee of MXN900 million (USD43.9 million). Going forward, the regulator expects Telcel to ‘put into operation the largest 5G commercial network in Latin America’.

TeleGeography notes that chief rival AT&T Mexico is the country’s other 3.5GHz spectrum holder. The 3550MHz-3600MHz concession – which was inherited via the 2015 takeover of Nextel Mexico – was renewed on 1 January 2020, for a period of 20 years. It is unclear if AT&T is awaiting further IFT action before it can use the frequencies to launch 5G mobile services.