Mexico is migrating towards a universal telecom license

Mexico is migrating towards a universal telecom license
Photo credit: Wataniya Telecom Antenna by Shafiu Hussain

According to the Mexican Telecom Reform, by December 10, the Congress will enact a law to uniform the current telecom concessions and permits, which could be commercial, public, private and social use. Furthermore, those concessions could be used for rendering any type of service (universal telecom license or “UTL”).

Currently, there is a mosaic of telecom concession titles, according to the date of granting. During last decade, Ministry of Communications (SCT) used renewals of titles for standarizing them into a uniform and convergent title. This UTL was originally pointed out by the 2012 OECD “Review of Telecommunication Policy and Regulation in Mexico”, to remove entry barriers.

As we speak, the Congress is working on the provisions of the Telecom Law to land the concept of the UTL. I hope that some of these questions arise on the Congress, as they arise everyday to the people of the industry.

1. Severability. It is customary in Mexican telecom market that operators have concessions for commercial use and permits for non-profit use. As early telecom law regulated technology, not services, many long-time operators have diverse type of licenses with diverse obligations. This landscape forces the Congress providing for severability on events of default and partial revocation, specially for companies who own licenses associated to spectrum.

2. Cross-ownership. As IFETEL inherited antitrust authority for telecom matters, regulation on cross-ownership becomes relevant tool, and provisions for a License Registry will be crucial. “Groups of interest” might not seem relevant issue for telecom law, but for antitrust telecom will be essential. Will IFETEL implement cross-default on affiliates? It makes sense considering the operation of converging technologies and the blind spot of the authority while verifying on-net breaches to law. Under antitrust logics, one of the relevant markets is broadcasting was advertising. Would this market be inherited to IFETEL for analysing concentrations?

3. Private Use Licenses. It comes to my attention that the Reform mentions that IFETEL will uniform licenses for private use. Will private networks be forced to apply for a license to operate as such? Why? There is no public interest in them if they are not available to the general public. This is an issue that needs to be followed-up on.

While these issues are quite challenging for the Congress and exceptionally challenging for IFETEL to implement, the biggest issue on the Mexican Telecom Reform remains this: Would Telmex get a UTL that includes CATV and/or broadcasting TV?

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