* Company, government clash over spectrum
* Bandwidth has potential for vast telecom services
By Cyntia Barrera
MEXICO CITY, March 7 Mexican media company
MVS Comunicaciones said on Wednesday it had offered to pay the
government $340 million to keep nearly three quarters of
broadcast spectrum it is fighting to stop from falling into the
hands of rivals.
MVS, holder of 190 megahertz (MHz) of lucrative bandwidth
that has been dormant for several years, is being circled by
rivals, including broadcaster Televisa.
MVS vice-president Jose Antonio Abad told Reuters that in
their latest proposal to the government, submitted in November,
they offered to pay $340 million to keep 140 MHz of the
spectrum, and use it for an initial period of 10 years.
"We had investment commitments to cover the first (money)
requirements of more than $450 million," he said.
The government rejected the bid, but has not given details
of how much money MVS had offered.
The MVS chunk of spectrum is the sum of 42
licenses granted by the government to MVS in the past, some of
which have expired, making it impossible for the company to
build a nation-wide network unless the government renews those
MVS pitched a plan in April 2011 to use the
spectrum more efficiently by making it available to almost any
player via a joint venture for a high-speed network that
included Clearwire, chip maker Intel and
Alestra and others.
With MVS, they would have jointly invested $400 million, but
plans fell through mid-last year . Abad said the
companies were still seeking to find a way of making the plan
He said the MVS proposal included returning a 50 MHz block
of the capacity so that the government could re-auction it.
The ministry rejected the proposal, saying "the price was
too low ... and that they were at risk of being accused of
giving away the bandwidth for pennies," Abad said.
Mexico's communications and transport ministry said last
week that it had not renewed MVS' expired licenses, about 15
percent of the company's holdings. The rest of the licenses will
continue to expire through 2018.
Abad said he was skeptical the company could reach an
agreement with the government on keeping the spectrum soon.
Previous estimates by Mexico's finance ministry, in charge
of determining the amount MVS should pay to keep the whole 190
MHz spectrum, put tags of up to 39 billion pesos, or around $3
billion, an amount MVS said it could not possibly pay.
The ministries were not immediately available for comment.
The MVS spectrum could make room for at least two companies
the size of tycoon Carlos Slim's Telcel, the commercial brand of
America Movil, which currently has 66 million mobile
clients in Mexico, and allow for many other data-intensive uses.
With little hope left that the problem may be resolved
during President Felipe Calderon's administration -- he leaves
office in December -- MVS has already started talks with the
presidential hopefuls of Mexico's three main political parties.