AT&T buys more spectrum in Mexico

Puerto Juarez port in Cancun at Riviera Maya of Mexico
AT&T continues to increase its investment into Mexico. (Puerto Juarez/Getty Images)

AT&T is expanding its operation in Mexico with the $76 million purchase of roughly 80 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum.

As noted by MWL, the operator expanded its spectrum holdings in Mexico by 13% through the purchase, and now holds around a third of the country’s spectrum for international mobile communications. AT&T CFO John Stephens said the company will fund the purchase of the spectrum with sales of other spectrum assets and through the sale of its data centers to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.

AT&T and Telefonica were the only two bidders in the auction in Mexico.

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AT&T’s next major chance to purchase spectrum will be in November in the United States when the FCC kicks off the first of several planned millimeter-wave spectrum auctions, though it’s unclear whether AT&T will participate in that proceeding.

The action essentially represented AT&T’s further investment into the market for wireless services in Mexico. AT&T in 2015 launched its efforts in Mexico with the $1.88 billion purchase of Nextel Mexico and the $2.5 billion purchase of Iusacell. AT&T's goal at the time was to create one seamless LTE and calling network between the U.S. and Mexico covering more than 400 million POPs across the two countries.

During AT&T’s quarterly earnings call last month, the company said it gained 750,000 net customer additions in Mexico and had garnered a total of more than 3 million new customers during the past 12 months in the country. The company added that it has doubled its subscriber base to 16.4 million in Mexico during the past three years, and that its LTE network buildout in the country is in the “final stages," closing in on 100 million people.

AT&T said its revenues in Mexico were up 4.8% compared with the same quarter a year ago. However, the carrier said (PDF) that service revenues were down year over year, “due to an approximately $100 million impact from the shutdown of a wholesale business in the fourth quarter of 2017.”