‘Invest in Mexico’, telecoms minister tells conference

‘Invest in Mexico’, telecoms minister tells conference

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The Mexican market is open for investment, said the undersecretary for communications during his keynote at Mexico Connect. James Pearce reports

exico’s telecoms market is open for outside investment. That was the key message delivered by the Edgar Olivera Jiménez - the Mexican undersecretary of communications - during his keynote at this year’s Mexico Connect conference in June.

Olivera, who has overseen a major overhaul of Mexico’s telecoms sector as part of a bid to create more competitiveness, told a packed conference room that telecoms was "on the fast track" for transformation in the country.

"In telecoms," he said at the event, held in Mexico City, "there has been certain obstacles – resistance, institutional resistance, with regulations being debated. This is a reason why telecoms reform is moving more quickly."

"Another reason is because operators are experts. They are investors competing with one another, but they need clear laws that allow them to compete. But telecoms reform is based on technology. Some are dedicated towards robotics, AI, data management. All these applications have to be supported by telecoms – we can’t have applications that manage data if they are not supported by a robust telecoms network which manages data at high speeds."

On 10 June 2013, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a constitutional amendment that transformed the government’s role in telecommunications and expanded its power to curtail media monopolies.

According to figures shared by Olivera, the Mexican market has seen a significant shift since then. The organisation in charge of statistics surveyed Mexican citizens based on their use of technology in 2016/17 – the results showed in homes that have internet there were 7.9m homes prior to the reforms but this has grown by 10m more in a five year period.

"17m is around 33% and that is a significant growth," he added. The growth Mexico has seen in internet speed showed 80% of homes had less than 10Mbps. Nowadays these numbers are the other way – 80% have over 10Mbps.

"Not only did we grow quantity, we also grew the quality because the service users receive at home is much better. Some companies now offer 100Mbps and it is exponential growth as different people offer different and better services," Olivera said.

However, Mexico is still facing challenges, with a Competitive Intelligence Unit report in 2017 finding that America Movil – through subsidiaries Telcel and Telmex – continues to dominate the Mexican market.

This is despite government-supported projects such as Altan Redes’ 4G wholesale network, Red Compartida, and the Red Troncal fibre project.

He added: "We are seeing greater competition that we never thought we’d see. We saw an increase of 20m users in 5 years of internet connectivity. In mobile, we saw an increase of almost 20m users. 116m subscribers. To surpass the 100% mark is very challenging."

Mexico’s competitiveness "goes hand in hand with these reforms" he told the crowd. But "now the responsibility for keeping the reform on track is in the hands of the investors".

He said there has been great strides but Mexico needs to go further, with 50m users who are not connected. "It was 50m, then it is 25m and the question is how to connect them. We do that by following through on products with your critical eye and experience to improve our country."

Olivera concluded with a plea at the conference: "I hope Mexico Connect is a great event for you – please continue investing in our country."

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