Don´t Panic: The First-Mover Guide to the New Mexican Telecom Bill

Don´t Panic: The First-Mover Guide to the New Mexican Telecom Bill

Photo credit: Firefox Mobile by Johan Larsson

It happened Sunday just before midnight. Politicians from The Pact for Mexico, this is, an alliance made by major political parties for debating amendments to structural laws in Mexico, agreed on a Telecom Bill to be presented to the Mexican Congress.

Yesterday, at noon, The Pact for Mexico and the Federal Government made a press event to officially present the Telecom Bill to society.  This means that this Bill has already received pre-approval from majority of congressmen, and most likely will pass in essence.

As wrote in my Post: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Telecom and Love the Pact” the Telecom Bill was imminent with no way back. Increasing growth of telecom and IT services, would eventually make politicians to reach agreements to set things right in the telecom industry.

Certainly, this Bill will boost telecom business at mid and long-term, taking many industries with them. For first-movers, time is of the essence. Here are some highlights to understand the range of this Amendment:

1.There is a constitutional right to access broadband and access to information. Infomercials disguised as news are forbidden.

2. State will transform current COFETEL (telecom agency) and COFECO (antitrust agency) from subordinated government bodies to the Ministries of Communications and Economy, respectively, into two autonomous agencies with enough power to coordinate telecom industry and commercial markets (other than telecom).

3. Licenses and spectrum will be reorganised to allow converging telecom services. Meaning that companies may render converging services under one license, rather than having several permits, authorisations and concessions. New telecom agency will grant and revoke licenses, rather than the Ministry of Communications, as happened in the past.

3.Two new free-to-air networks will be placed under tender. Major players with 6 MHz are not invited.

4. Must-carry and must-offer obligations are included. Free-to-air TV has to offer broadcasted content and CATVs must carry those signals, both for free. There is an exception to “major” players, that would pay for them.

4. Foreign investment will be allowed at 100% in fixed and mobile services, and up to 49% in free-to-air TV and radio.

5. Local bundle for telecom, radio and TV networks of “major” players must be shared.

6. Government will grow its telecom network allowing private-public projects.

7. Bands of 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz will be reorganised, and a part used for wholesale.

It is important to notice that this Bill is to the Mexican constitution, and would require to have federal laws to detail all these aspects. However, the business expectations are great.

I can hardly find some time to discuss all aspects that come to my mind at this moment, of write “deep thoughts” of each topic. However, some topics come to my mind:

  • Mexican telecom operators, no matter size or network size, have just increased market value.
  • Content will be required to fill-in air time and CATVs.
  • Big data analytic will play a big role in the expansion of the services, as well as in the market defence.
  • The internet of things could have found broadband access, but also an emerging market that loves gadgets.
  •  Videocasting, internet-TV and VOD could explode during next years. Internet radio could find a niche too.
  • Advertising must find other lucrative niches other than infomercial news. Maybe migrate to the internet.
  • Telemedicine, electronic files and other e-health business will be pushed by this Bill.
  • Local governments will be more likely to implement e-government policies with better and cheaper internet access.
  • Digital products will find a bigger market.

Telecom Bill appears to have a “Do Business in Mexico” all over it, and will attract many players into the market share. Now, it is the time of Mexico embracing this historic transformation.

I will find some time to write on several topics of the Bill, and some other that are not covered by it. Meanwhile, so long, and thanks for all the first-movers …

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Telecom and Love the Pact

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Telecom and Love the Pact

Photo credit: Internet café by Jared Tarbell

This post is far from being a black humor political satire. In case you missed it, on December 3, 2012 members from 3 leading political parties signed the Pact for Mexico.

This Pact is a pre-agreement on backbone amendments to promote Mexico´s growing. In telecom, we find very interesting public policies that could boost that and other industries:

1. Anti-trust Agency (COFECO) will have authority for structural and functional separation of trusts.
2. Creation of special telecom and anti-trust courts.
3. Constitutional access to broadband.
4. New rules for challenging resolutions from Federal Telecom Agency (COFETEL) and COFECO.
5. COFETEL will be autonomous.
6. Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE)´s Telecom Network will grow.
7. The Bands of 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz will be reorganized. 90 MHz of the 700 MHz Band will be used for wholesale.
8. There will be free internet acess in public spots and buildings.
9. Promotion of public and private investment in apps for telehealth, telemedicine and electronic patient records.
10. New policies for e-government, open government and open government data.
11. A bidding for new free-to-air TV will be launched with obligations of free must-carry and must-offer for CATVs.
12. Dominant firms of telephony and data will be subject to assimetric regulation for tariffs, combo offering and M&As.
13. Telecom Law will be updated and reorganized in one single estatute.
14. New policies for TV, radio, telephone and data will be implemented in parallel.
15. Most of these policies will be implemented as early as first quarter of 2013 and finishing implementation on 2015 or 2018.

The fact that all political parties pre-agree on amendments forsee a majority on the Congress and of course, a coordination with Peña Nieto´s Administration for implementing them. The new Administration also has shown pre-consent from Telmex and Televisa, biggest telecom and media companies in Mexico. No Supreme Court support has been shown yet, though.

Take it with a grain of salt, but there are some rumors about an amendment on current foreign investment limitations to fixed telephony and free-to-air TV to boost competition.

If you google telecom bills and policies, sure will find most of these items. The difference goes beyond the manifest majority of the Congress to promote competition in telecom, but the State declaring that will lead the telecom growing during next 6 years.

However, there are other pledges hidden for the untrained eye. Sales of Mexican telecom industry growing at a 15.1% pace and mobile broadband at 56.4% during third quarter of 2012, shows consumer is demanding the coming of big data.

In parallel, official information from Ministry of Economy shows that IT Industry has 32 clusters nationwide with 1340 companies. During last 10 years, the industry has grown 12.9% and the jobs 12% As such, there are 115,000 IT professionals graduated annually.

Have you stopped to think on the potential of this combo growing?

The Pact is in fact pushed and guaranteed by data consumer, who actually creates the IT and telecom jobs by paying for higher end services, but also by new era technologies that make hard for firms to keep market share without competing and innovating.

As Muhammad Ali once said “Impossible is temporary”. Today we are thinking on mobile broadband, while some are starting to foresee a hardware-less future based on the cloud with big data crossing across converging networks.

Mexico is paving the road for this. If you are smart enough you can grab a bit of business. If you are smarter, you will prepare yourself for a terabit. Just do not be foolished by technology, a business plan still will be required covering financial, tax, legal, IP, marketing and other traditional aspects of doing business. The Devil is in the details.

Proposed amendment to NOM-024-SSA3-2010: Systems for Health Electronic Records

Proposed amendment to NOM-024-SSA3-2010: Systems for Health Electronic Records

Photo credit: IMSS by Juan Pablo Ortiz Arechiga

Ministry of Health is proposing amendments to upgrade NOM-024-SSA3-2010 for standardizing SIRES (Information Systems for Health Electronic Record) on interoperability, processing, interpretation, confidentiality and security for a better practice management.

This Standard is a complement to NOM-040-SSA2-2004 (health information) and NOM-168-SSA1-1998 (clinic files).

Ministry of Health will provide with rules for implementing these systems across the health centers in the country, preparing and providing guides and formats for the SIRES to implement.

Each health professional using a SIRES, requires to enter a minimum set of data into its system, as provided by the Standard.

This Standard implements some rules from HL7 (Health Level Seven), an international non-profit organization that develops standards for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information for medical practice management.

Opportunity for proving comments ends on October 14. These comments are not mandatory for Ministry of Health to include into the final version, but clearly will provide with localized and tested knowledge on how these systems can successfully be implemented in Mexico.

Keyword here is “evangelize“. After all, if a standard will influence changes on practice management or IT business, it is better to influence that standard before it takes effect.

Three Services to Supercharge Mexico City Government

Three Services to Supercharge Mexico City Government

Photo credit: Mexico City Metrobus by DearEdward

Fifteen years ago, I was helping an IT client to close a sale for Supply chain management software. He was very optimistic about the Mexican market and told me a phrase I still recall: “Lawyers, Bankers and Government are the last strongholds to conquer.”

Yes, he was referring to the difficulty of those ones to embrace technology. At that time, the phrase seemed proper to me. Now, lawyers use iPads for depositions, Bankers have implemented mobile systems for payments and Government moves forward at a different pace.

Federal Government has achieved to get rid of red tape through Government 2 Citizen Services (G2C). Mexico City has implemented some important changes and left behind some other, apparently there are not enough funds for speeding up. Here are my two cents on services that I believe would help the City People in their every day life.

1. Public Registry of Commerce (PRC).

PRC is an office in charge of receiving, recording and managing the changes on real estate property, incorporations of companies and professional corporations, as well as mergers, split-off, powers of attorney and other corporate records.

City Government has made a tremendous effort to digitalize old records as from 1869 to date. Three stages has set for this digitalization.

The first was to digitalize real estate files and books with a current 65% of progress. The second stage is to digitalize new records which has been implemented. The third stage is to receive electronic files of records authenticated with digital signature with has been implemented, too.

In the near future may be possible to search and receive electronic records from the PRC. But what if, Government goes beyond usual services and provide value added services such as email alerts notifying changes in real estate and corporations records.

Bond, insurance and financial companies could be interested in paid subscription to changes in records of debtors, as well as third party creditors and future plaintiffs.

2.    Citizen Profile.

City Government charges for a variety of services and taxes. Some of them are periodical like real estate taxes, car taxes (where applicable), water and car pollution verification. Some other are triggered by event, like car transfer records, house transfer taxes, antenna installation and advertising duties.

All those filings and payments have to be carried out severally. Some of them can be solved through the internet. Others still follow the old ways.

But what if, you may access a website, create a profile and keep tracking of all those filings, including set calendar alerts, make internet payments, store electronic receipts of payments, access history of filings, receive suggestions of next steps for your filing and make transfer of cars with other users by clicking a few times.

The same could be done for companies and users with repetitive filings, such as advertiser permits, bars owners and installers of telecom antennas to save them literally thousands of hours and money.

All that has to be implemented, obviously, with a system with government-level privacy and security, but will expedite the red tape.

3. Telecom Infrastructure.

On March 28, 2012, Federal Government established general guidelines for leasing its facilities for installing telecom infrastructure of private operators. The objective of the Project “Federal Facilities for Telecom Infrastructure” or “IFIIT” was to increase, throughout the Country, telecom hotels for operators to set antennas, servers and telecom equipment in general.

The IFIIT is running for two months now and the results are not shown yet. Mexican telecom law imposes interconnection obligation to operators, but do not force to share passive infrastructure (colocation). Needless to say that this will gear up telecom industry.

According to 2010 INEGI data (Statistics Institute), Mexico City has almost 4 million internet users. There is no official calculation of mobile users in the City, but may be over 20 million, plus all telecom subscribers.

As such, Mexico City Government owns and leases several facilities that can share with operators.

Leasing part of public facilities to telecom operators may be a smart income for the City. These operations are simple leases and do not require but City permits for some of the equipment (antennas mostly). So, operators would appreciate a package of leasing and antenna license in the same contract with one single office. As an effect, maybe prices for some services will drop.

HERE IS THE PUNCHLINE. These services may be small, but they are great companion to the efforts of the City to be on the edge of G2C services.

Cancellation of Proposal for Packaging and Labeling for Non-digital TV Sets

Cancellation of Proposal for Packaging and Labeling for Non-digital TV Sets

Photo credit: Remote Control, Television – TV-controller by espensorvik

As indicated in my post of October 18: The Digital Transition Side Effect: Proposal of Packaging and Labelling for Non-digital TV Sets  a Draft of new labelling and packaging Mexican Standard (NOM) was open for discussion.  However, on October 21, 2011, Ministry of Economy cancelled that Draft on the grounds that Deputy Chamber and Senate required an injunction before Supreme Court to suspend this Standard until such Court decides on diverse material matters on the Presidential Decree for Transition to Digital TV.

Transition to Digital TV is very complex in Mexico, since this involves many commercial and political interests in the middle of election times. The outcome will shape the new telecom industry in Mexico.

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