On 5 December, Mexico published the National Radioelectric Programme for 2022-2024. The programme, which will be jointly operated by the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) and the Ministry of Communications and Technology (SICT), intends to guarantee the optimal use of the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, and 2.5 GHz frequencies through universal access while reorganising the radioelectric spectrum for radio and television stations. Top-line priorities include:
- To promote the efficient use of the radioelectric spectrum to drive the development and implementation of new, widely used, radiocommunications services.
- To promote the use of the radioelectric spectrum to bring better coverage and access to the people.
These two priorities have separate evaluations and goals for success. For the programme to be successful, Mexico will:
- Double the amount of MHz allocated via concessions by the end of 2024.
- Increase the number of non-profit concessions for social use.
- Increase public-use telecommunications and radio diffusion services.
- Increase the percentage of the population covered by mobile broadband services, specifically measuring along major road networks, high altitudes, and remote locations.
2023: the year for spectrum in Mexico
The move signals the Mexican government’s commitment to several telecommunication efforts, while also resonating with concerns previously raised by telcos regarding spectrum allocation and costs.
At the Mobile 360 Latin America Conference and the Latin American Digital Transformation Congress, held jointly in Mexico City from 29 November to 1 December, most discussions centred around 5G and the sustainability of spectrum costs, as well as the future development of the telco industry and the services provided. Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) Commissioner Arturo Robles shared these concerns, stating that by having the highest spectrum costs in the region, Mexico could potentially limit the coverage and impact telcos’ business models.
Against this backdrop, Undersecretary of Transportation Rogelio Jimenez Pons mentioned that Mexico could reach a deal to reduce spectrum costs in 2023 to align with President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s plan to ensure connectivity for the entire Mexican population.
What’s at stake for companies?
With the new National Radioelectric Programme, Mexican authorities intend to release additional spectrum in the 600 MHz band. This would be considered a second digital dividend. Increasing the amount of sub-GHz spectrum available will foster efficient coverage deployments in rural and remote areas, while efficient use of the 2.5 GHz band will improve the network’s capacity in dense, urban contexts. This aligns with Mexico’s social coverage programme to expand connectivity to remote areas.
In sum, by increasing the amount of spectrum available to the public, many benefits can be expected from incumbent IMT operators, as well as community and non-profit local networks.
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