MEXICO CITY Dec 4 Mexico's telecoms industry
watchdog said on Wednesday it has informed the companies it will
assess for tougher regulation, likely the first step in taking
measures against phone giant America Movil and
The Mexican government has so far focused its drive to boost
competition on the telecoms sector, which has become a potent
symbol of entrenched interests in the country.
America Movil, controlled by multi-billionaire Carlos Slim,
has roughly 70 percent of the Mexican mobile phone market, and
about 80 percent of the fixed-line business. Televisa meanwhile
has more than 60 percent of the TV market.
Earlier this year, Congress passed a reform that gives the
new Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) sweeping powers
to impose anti-trust measures on dominant players.
IFT president Gabriel Contreras said at an event in Mexico
City that the companies who could be subject to the new regime
had been notified. He declined to name them because it is up to
the companies to identify themselves in the process.
President Enrique Pena Nieto's reforms gives the IFT the
power to break up telecoms companies that are found to be
impeding competition. However, Contreras said last month that
option is only intended to be used as a last resort.
The IFT can also apply a range of other measures to spur
competition, including forcing dominant players to share
infrastructure or creating a price regime to aid smaller rivals.
The IFT has until early March to determine which firms are
"predominant" and America Movil had already said it expected to
be targeted under the new legislation. It is widely anticipated
that Televisa will be subject to a tougher regime too.
Two officials at America Movil said they did not know if the
company had been notified by the IFT and two others did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Televisa official said a process of information exchange
had begun with the IFT over the issue of predominance.
America Movil and Televisa have spent years battling efforts
to impose tougher rules on how they operate, using legal
injunctions and appeals to thwart regulators. Much of that legal
cover has been stripped away by the new reform.
The companies can present their own cases against being
labeled predominant and they are expected to put forward a range
of arguments to blunt the regulator's efforts.
Secondary legislation to implement the telecoms reform has
been delayed, giving the likely targets more time to prepare
their defences. Congress is expected to begin looking at the
secondary legislation in February.