NII Holdings, which delivers mobile services in Latin America under the Nextel brand, expects to launch its WCDMA/HSPA+ network in Mexico during this year's third quarter.
Company vice president Gustave Cantu told Reuters that the new network will cost $1.7 billion and will launch nationwide in September. He said 10 cities are already outfitted with mobile broadband equipment, which will provide data speeds of 21 Mbps.
Reston, Va.-based NII, which first launched its mobile phone services using iDEN technology, has 3.8 million customers in Mexico. With many business customers using its network, NII's Mexican ARPU is $42, three times that generated by America Movil's Telcel, which controls some 70 percent of the market.
NII's Nextel Mexico unit was awarded the concession for 30MHz in the AWS 1710-1770/2110-2170 MHz spectrum on October 1, 2010. The company had joined with broadcaster Televisa to bid in AWS auction but legal challenges dissolved the partnership, leaving NII with the spectrum. Media baron Ricardo Salinas, who owns rival Iusacell, filed many of the challenges. Just last week, on June 14, Mexico's competition regulator, Comision Federal de Competencia (Cofeco), approved a deal enabling Televisa to acquire half of Iusacell for $1.6 billion.
NII's Mexican business may soon find itself playing catchup on the mobile broadband front, as rival operators move to deploy LTE technology. One day prior to gaining the government's blessing for its linkup with Televisa, Iusacell and Spain's Telefonica signed a five-year network-sharing and infrastructure build-out deal that should enable them to begin rolling out LTE across Mexico. Rival Telcel is expected to introduce LTE in some Mexican cities later this year. Telefonica's Movistar unit holds 22 percent of Mexico's wireless market, while Iusacell has some 5 percent, noted Fox News Latino.
Meanwhile, in other NII news, the company announced that Gokul Hemmady, the company's executive vice president and CFO, was appointed COO, a newly created position in which he will be responsible for oversight of the company's business operations across its markets. Hemmady will serve as CFO until a successor is named.
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