MEXICO CITY Latin America's biggest phone company, America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, said on Tuesday it had connected its Mexican lines to a newly built $1.1 billion submarine cable that stretches from South America to the United States.
The cable, designed for high-speed data transmission, will boost service to America Movil's customers, particularly in Latin America where demand for internet capacity is rising rapidly, the company said.
The cable, which took 19 months to lay, will connect the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Mexico-based America Movil said it will use the 17,800 kilometers (11,060 miles) of cable for transmitting voice, data and video traffic between the countries.
America Movil said in an annual report filed with U.S. regulators that the cable is designed to transmit data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second.
A company spokeswoman said the $1.1 billion cost announced on Tuesday included the cost of the land connections for the cable, which reaches Florida in the United States.
It was not immediately clear when the cable will begin operation, but the spokeswoman said it could start early next year. The filing had said it would begin being used in late 2014.
America Movil, which controls more than 70 percent of Mexico's cellphone market and about 80 percent of its fixed line market, is facing increasing local competition after a government reform was passed earlier this year.
The company has lately been trying to expand outside of Latin America, with investments in Dutch phone company KPN and Telekom Austria. About one-third of the company's core profit still comes from Mexico.
Shares in America Movil were down 0.9 percent at 14.44 pesos in early afternoon trading.
The shares, which have been under pressure following the telecom reform in Mexico and after the company made an offer for KPN that it then withdrew, are down 2.7 percent this year.
(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Dave Graham and Jonathan Oatis)