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Mexico revokes Nextel’s 3G licenses

Nextel’s plan to deploy 3G voice and push-to-talk services in Mexico, which was expected by the first half of 2012, may be in trouble after a Mexican court ordered the Ministry of Communications and Transportation to revoke the mobile concession awarded in October 2010. The local unit of Latin American digital trunking operator NII Holdings has awarded 30 megahertz in the 1.7 GHz band in October 2010 in a consortium with Mexican media giant Televisa.

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On Nov. 14, Judge Alfredo Cid García decided that Nextel-Televisa violated the so-called auction 21 basis. The Comision Federal de Telecomunicaciones, or Cofetel, noted that Telcel and Movistar paid almost 20 times more for the same frequencies compared with what Nextel-Televisa paid.

As noted by TeleGeography, in June 2010 it was announced that a joint venture between Nextel and Televisa had successfully bid U.S. $3.82 million (48.3 million Mexican pesos) for one 10 MHz block of 1900 MHz spectrum. Later that month, the duo emerged as the sole bidder for the nationwide concession in a 1700 MHz spectrum auction, offering the minimum bid of $13.1 million for 30 MHz in each of the country’s nine mobile operating regions.

It has been a controversial bidding. Cofetel tried to reject the bid, but at the end the joint venture received its concessions in October 2010. During the process, the Iusacell group sought to block the sale on the grounds that the Nextel-Televisa was paying too little for the frequencies.

Since Nov. 14, Nextel has told El Universal that the auction 21 was in its favor. The Nextel, Cofetel and Ministry of Communications and Transportation did not respond to requests by RCR Wireless News for comment.

This is a resolution of first instance. Nextel has 10 working days to challenge the decision.

In Mexico, Nextel has already launched 3G services, but only with wireless broadband. Full service, including push-to-talk and voice, are expected to be available during the second quarter of 2012.

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