Mexico


It was four years ago, in March 2014, that LIRNEasia organized an expert forum on broadband initiatives in New Delhi as part of our work supported by the Ford Foundation. The presentations included one on the design of Mexico’s unique experiment of building a single network using 700 MHz frequencies which was to be used by all operators. So it cannot be said that we were behind in spotting new developments in telecom. Four years later, the shared network is live. Here is the Economist’s account.

Crunch time in Mexico

Posted by on March 8, 2014  /  0 Comments

Once monopolists get entrenched, it takes significant courage to dislodge them. The monopoly profits have been used to build up considerable political capital. So it is noteworthy when entrenched monopolies get taken, as it appears to be happening in Mexico. The lack of serious competition in Mexico has kept prices high, has limited investment and has held back the penetration of new technologies. According to the International Telecommunications Union, only 26 percent of Mexican households had access to the Internet in 2012, compared to more than 45 percent in Brazil.
So a big European telco is to be fully owned by a developing-economy company? Given the weak management of European telcos, this should not come as a surprise. Europe is not of great interest to us, but we did touch on this. One wishes it was a different company, more efficient, less immersed in a monopoly culture, but still . .
Mexico is not really within our sphere of activity, but the irony of having Carlos Slim as the co-chair of the Broadband Commission has caused me to write a few blogs about telecom sector developments there. Most recently, there was this stunning news that a political consensus had been achieved to attack “the great problem of concentration in telephony, internet and television.” One year ago, the OECD conducted a review of the telecom sector in Mexico. The conclusions came under fire from the entities that benefited from the status quo. Is there a causal relation here?
The ITU’s Secretary General appointed the biggest single barrier to broadband in Latin America, the wily Carlos Slim Helu, as the co-chair of the Broadband Commission. He specializes in tying up efforts to regulate his enterprises. Now that the political elites in Mexico have agreed to curb the hegemony of Telmex, his hands will be full and there may be a vacancy in the Broadband Commission. Slim, the world’s richest man, dominates Mexico’s telecommunications market, controlling 70 percent of the country’s mobile market and 80 percent of its fixed phone lines. Televisa, controlled by tycoon Emilio Azcarraga, has about 60 percent of the broadcast market.
One of the great ironies of the present discourse on Internet/broadband is the appointment of Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s richest man and possibly the single most significant barrier to greater Internet access in Latin America, to serve as the Co-Chair of the ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission. It is widely recognized that Telmex exerts significant market power to keep prices up, users out, and its profits high. I co-authored a few pieces on Mexico’s early reforms in the 1990s so I have some knowledge of the subject. Now the government has set its sights on telecoms. According to Aurelio Nuño, the president’s chief of staff, within two months the PRI will present a bill to attack the “great problem of concentration” in telephony, internet and television.
The idea of using information supplied by people for early warning is extremely attractive. So much so that one politically-correct person wanted us to rename our project from “last mile” to “first mile.” We didn’t because in our model it was the last mile, the end of the warning chain, and we have little tolerance for people who think the world will change simply because we rename it. But that does not stop us from thinking about the possibilities of detecting hazards through crowdsourcing. Seems quite appropriate for “unnatural” hazards of criminality as described in this report: “Avoid Plaza Las Américas,” several people wrote, giving the location.
The OECD countries are racing toward a broadband solution based fixed access, ADSL, Cable or FTTH. THE number of people subscribing to broadband in OECD countries increased by 13% last year to 267m. More than a fifth of the combined population of the 30 mostly rich nations in the OECD now have high-speed access to the internet. The broadband penetration rate is above a third in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Adoption is lowest in poorer countries such as Mexico, where just over 7% are broadband subscribers.
Mobile phones are about to become the simplest and quickest way to transfer money across borders, under a deal announced yesterday by Western Union and GSM Association, the main mobile phone operators’ body. The agreement could have a big impact on global cross-border remittances, worth an estimated $500bn a year, and provide a springboard for mobile carriers and Western Union to offer other mobile banking services using “mobile wallet” technology. Cross-border money transfers valued at up to $100 in countries such as India, the Philippines, Mexico and China – which have large volumes of remittances from migrant workers – will be an early priority of the deal. Thirty-five mobile operators with 800m customers in more than 100 countries have signed up to take part in the GSMA Mobile Money Transfer pilot scheme led by Sunil Mittal, managing director of Bharti Airtel. Other participants include MTN, Orange, Orascom, Smart, Telenor and VimpelCom.
The final report from the World Dialogue on Regulation (WDR) 3rd research cycle has been released and can now be downloaded or ordered in hardcopy. Edited by Amy Mahan and William H. Melody, this most recent collection of the network’s research and case studies elaborates on inclusive and propoor strategies for extending network development. Title: Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case studies and research from WDR Research Cycle 3 Editors: Amy Mahan and William H. Melody
The OECD has published comparative data on broadband speeds and prices. This will help drive prices down and quality up. The rest of the countries need to develop their own benchmarks. BBC NEWS | Technology | Global broadband prices revealed According to the report, broadband prices for DSL connections across the 30 countries have fallen by 19% and increased in speed by 29% in the year to October 2006. Cable prices and speeds followed a similar trend.
The article below from NYTimes.com has been sent to you by samarajiva AT lirne DOT net. By JOHN MARKOFF, SAN FRANCISCO, In an effort to create a global wireless alternative to cable and telephone Internet service, Intel said on Monday that it would collaborate with Clearwire, a wireless broadband company, in developing and deploying the new technology. The companies said that Intel would make a "significant” investment in Clearwire, which has begun building long-range wireless data networks around the world. Clearwire, founded by Craig O.