Mexico aims to reclaim spectrum in five months: minister

Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:09pm EDT
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By Cyntia Barrera

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico said on Friday it aims to recover an attractive broadcast spectrum held by private firms within five months and then resell it, a move that could break billionaire Carlos Slim's dominance of the telecoms industry.

The government hopes to reclaim the 2.5 GHz band, which is ideal for servicing data-hungry devices like tablets and smartphones, and resell it to companies that could challenge Slim's America Movil.

"We estimate the entire (recovery) process could take five months. We will listen to everyone," said Communications and Transport Minister Dionisio Perez Jacome in an interview with Reuters Friday evening.

In a surprise move, the Mexican government said on Wednesday it wants to take back 68 existing licenses for the 2.5 GHz band. Privately-held media company MVS Comunicaciones holds 42 of those licenses, 15 percent of which have already expired.

The government moved after MVS and other companies failed to develop high-speed networks with the spectrum.

Perez Jacome said companies will have the right to legally challenge the government's decision, which could drag the recovery process out. MVS declined comment on Friday.

MVS has several pending appeals in courts over expired licenses that it wanted to revive but the government refused to renew. In Mexico, appeals can take years before they are resolved in courts.

Perez Jacome said MVS and the other holders of licenses will be paid a yet to be determined compensation.   Continued...

New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat speaks during a news conference to announce a protest against Mexican telecommunications and retail tycoon Carlos Slim Helu in New York, August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford