Mexico to Build Wholesale Mobile Network in 700 MHz Band

When the cost of building a new broadband access network is high, regulators and Internet service providers alike will consider wholesale approaches, as featured by the Australian National Broadband Network, as well as similar efforts in Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Now Mexico is creating a wireless broadband wholesale network using the entire 90 MHz spectrum in the digital dividend (700 MHz band), and hopes to have the network activated by 2018.

The wholesale-only network will sell capacity to retailers, according to Ernesto Flores-Roux, Associate Researcher, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas - CIDE, Mexico, who spoke at a meeting organized by LIRNE Asia in March 2014, on the subject of broadband policy to bring broadband access to the poor in India.

Incumbent service providers will be able to buy capacity on the wholesale network, with one key trade-off. If they do so, such incumbents also must open up their existing networks to third party wholesale as well, on conditions similar to wholesale access terms on the new 700-MHz wholesale network.

The decision to build a wholesale-only network was driven by the belief that this is the best way to assure lowest-possible cost for consumers, said Flores-Roux.

It remains unclear how investment in the wholesale network will be made. At the moment, “any conceivable structure can be used for the ownership and financing of the network,” said Flores-Roux.

In other words, investment can be “private, public or both.”

But other approaches to getting low-cost broadband access likely will be tried as well.

As in the United States, where shared spectrum approaches now are being introduced, existing spectrum presently licensed to government users can be shared with commercial users.

That will allow Internet service providers to move faster in building networks, and at lower cost, to provide broadband services to unserved consumers, according to Professor Martin Cave, Deputy Chairman, Competition Commission, UK.

As has happened in the past, entirely new approaches to network infrastructure are the key to extending communications service to everyone. Nobody originally thought cable TV networks would become full-service communications networks.

Nobody originally thought mobile networks would be the way everybody, everywhere, got voice communications.

Likewise, it is likely new approaches, originally unforeseen, will help ISPs deliver broadband services to everybody, everywhere.
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