Mexican agencies move closer to new telecom interconnection rules

MEXICO CITY Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:59pm EST

MEXICO CITY Jan 23 (Reuters) - Mexican regulators on Wednesday moved closer to setting guidelines for the fees telecom operators charge each other, a process that sprang from the desire to curb the power of tycoon Carlos Slim in the phone market.

Since 2011, telecom watchdog Cofetel has been trying to set rules to give telecom operators fair access to all networks. Earlier, some companies had complained that Slim's Telefonos de Mexico, the biggest provider of fixed-line services, was overcharging or denying access to its vast infrastructure.

The set of rules has been reviewed ever since by Cofetel and Cofemer, an agency that oversees regulation issues in Mexico.

On Wednesday, Cofetel agreed to send back its last observations on the so-called interconnection rules to Cofemer for a final review.

Once Cofemer receives Cofetel's answer, it will have five working days to issue the final document for publication in Mexico's Official Gazette.

Cofetel said in a statement the process could be done by early February.

The new set of rules will not be obligatory, meaning Telmex and other operators could opt not to adopt them.

But sector analysts have said Telmex could gain points with regulators by following the new rules if it wants to revive its long-standing bid to win government approval to offer television services in Mexico.