April 17, 2013 / 8:41 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Mexican ruling hits broadcast spectrum recovery plan

MEXICO CITY, April 17 (Reuters) - Mexico's Supreme Court on
Wednesday upheld an appeal by a company fighting to keep a chunk
of lucrative broadcast spectrum that the government hopes to use
to spur more competition in the country's closed
telecommunications market.
    The decision is a blow to Mexico's new government which is
trying to shake up a telecom sector where regulatory efforts
have long been stymied by court battles from entrenched players
such as the world's richest man, Carlos Slim.
    The government last year said it wanted to reclaim 68
licenses for the 2.5 gigahertz (GHz) band, of which media firm
MVS Comunicaciones holds 42. To avoid having to return the
spectrum, the company sought and was granted a court injunction.
    A spokesman for the Supreme Court said it upheld the appeal
against the bid to recover the 190 megahertz (MHz) that MVS
controls of the 2.5 GHz band, which is ideal for servicing
data-hungry devices such as tablets and smartphones.
     The government decided to take back the spectrum after MVS
and other companies failed to use it to develop high-speed
networks, and was planning to resell it.
    Analysts have estimated that the 190 MHz would be enough to
service three companies roughly the size of Carlos Slim's
America Movil, Mexico's top phone company.
    President Enrique Pena Nieto presented a bill last month
that aims to foment competition in the industry by allowing more
foreign investment and by giving regulators the power to force
dominant players in the market to sell assets.
    His plan identified the 2.5 GHz band as a central part of a
drive to improve the high speed data network. America Movil
dominates the phone sector with about 70 percent of the mobile
business and 80 percent of the fixed line market.
    MVS called the decision "a precedent which undoubtedly will
provide greater security and judicial certainty for investment
and development of Mexico's Telecomunication sector." The firm
said it was open to a continued dialogue with the government
about optimizing spectrum use.
     A spokesman for Mexico's Communications and Transport
Ministry declined to comment.
    The new telecoms bill passed the lower house of Congress
last month and is due to be voted in the Senate this week.

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