Mexican telecom overhaul bill approved with amendments

Mexico’s Senate has approved a bill which will introduce significant revisions aimed at fostering greater competition in the country’s telecoms and television sectors.

Under the original bill, the Federal Economic Competition Commission – an antitrust agency which essentially acts as a regulator – had the power to force companies classified as ‘dominant’ to sell assets. Amendments to the bill allow companies regulated by the agency to request temporary injunctions against both enforced sales and fines.

Although this amendment appears to water down the original proposal somewhat, the bill also states that companies in the telecoms and television sectors must be regulated by the Federal Telecommunications Institute. The regulator has the power to fine or break up companies, and companies cannot use injunctions to stall its decisions.

Operators may launch a legal challenge against the regulator’s decisions, but during the legal process they cannot suspend regulations. This piece of legislation seems to be specifically aimed at market leader America Movil, which has repeatedly managed to stall regulatory decisions via the appeals process.

With a market share of around 70%, America Movil dominates the Mexican market. The bill is an attempt to challenge such monopolies, providing the regulator with greater power as well as allowing foreign companies to own greater stakes in mobile operators. Having been swiftly approved by the lower house of Congress, the amended bill now again requires the lower house’s final approval.

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