Altán signs partnership for Mexican wholesale wireless network
25 January 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Work has started on Mexico’s wholesale wireless network after a government agency formally signed the public-private partnership with Altán Redes, the consortium selected in November after a rival bid was excluded.
Organismo Promotor de Inversiones en Telecomunicaciones (Promtel – the Investment Promotion Agency for Telecommunications) signed the deal yesterday in Mexico City to begin work on Red Compartida, the shared 4G wireless network which is due to start operation on 31 March 2018.
Altán, backed by the Morgan Stanley Investment Bank and the World Bank, won the 20-year contract to build an open-access wholesale wireless network that will cover 92.2% of the country’s population – about 112 million people.
Red Compartida is “one of the largest telecommunication projects in the history of Mexico”, said Altán, whose backers include telecoms operators Axtel and Megacable, which hold a stake through a series of non-voting shares and without involvement in management. Each has a participation of 4.01%.
The project’s largest investor is Marapendi Holding, ultimately backed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, with a stake of 33.38%. The next largest shareholder is the China Mexico Fund (CMF), with a participation of 23.36%. This is a fund specifically created to invest in and finance infrastructure projects in Mexico. The CMF is managed by World Bank subsidiary International Finance Corporation (IFC), which also owns 3.34%.
The Mexican government’s decision to award the contract to Altán is still being challenged by Rivada Networks and its CEO, Irish businessman Declan Ganley, on legal grounds. Only two weeks ago, the Mexican government said it was reviewing the award.
Mexico’s regulator, the Federal Institute of Telecommunications, have already awarded Altán and Promtel their concession licences, a week before signing of the public-private partnership.
“This wholesale broadband network will allow 92.2% of the country’s population to have access to some of the best communications technology available worldwide,” said Altán.
The company added: “The public-private partnership model is considered to be optimal in order garner state-provided assets, such as radio frequency, but requires a strong additional private investment, which can only be achieved through partnerships in the private sector.”