March 12, 2015 / 12:15 AM / 5 years ago

Mexico sees tender for $10 billion mobile network by early October

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico hopes to launch the tender for a $10 billion national mobile broadband network by early October, the country’s transport and communications ministry (SCT) said on Wednesday.

Creation of the network was written into Mexico’s constitution as part of a telecoms sector overhaul finalized last year that aims to boost competition and investment in a sector dominated by billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil.

The project, which he government estimates will cost $10 billion over 10 years, will give Slim’s mobile competitors better coverage without relying on America Movil’s network or bearing the cost of building their own.

The winning bidder will create a company that will build and run the network and have a license to use 90 MHz of the 700 MHz spectrum band. That is considered valuable for its ability to penetrate walls and cover large areas with smaller amounts of infrastructure.

Some telecom operators are wary of the plan, saying the private sector would use the spectrum more efficiently and that the project could deter investment.

The SCT on Wednesday published a request for expressions of interest from companies that want to be involved. It included a tentative timeline which would see the initial project terms released in June, and the full tender launched at the end of September or early October.

Last year, the SCT received an unsolicited bid for the network from a group of ex-telecom executives, lawyers and bankers supported by equipment makers Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, which it did not accept.

China Telecommunications Corporation, the parent of China’s third-largest carrier, is studying a possible investment in Mexico, a company spokesman said in January, a day after Reuters reported that the subsidiary is preparing a possible bid for the network.

Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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