MVS, Televisa, Mexican government clash over TV spectrum

Gabriel Miramar-Garcia | 08-03-2012

The battle over spectrum re-use is heating up in Mexico: TV broadcaster Grupo Televisa has asked that the 190MHz of free spectrum owned by communications provider MVS Comunicaciones be thrown open go competition.

The spectrum was freed up when MVS moved from terrestrial to satellite broadcasting. MVS, in partnership with Clearwire and Intel, had intended to use the spectrum to set up a wholesale mobile broadband network to bring broadband to the masses throughout the country. However, the $400 million project was abandoned after only $80 million was spent, due to what MVS says is an unviable government licencing scheme and a lack of political will.

The Communications and Transport Ministry has now decided not to renew MVS's frequency concessions, which are necessary for it to build a nationwide network-- a move Televisa is naturally supporting. The next step would be to reassign the spectrum to a new frequency band and auction it off-- a move that would bring a range of new rivals to MVS for wireless services.

Not willing to go quietly, MVS has taken out full-page ads in major newspapers around the country blaming Televisa for "obstructing competition" by wanting to have its spectrum taken away. It cites the fact that it has just launched a new service in partnership with EchoStar, under the Dish Mexico brand, which competes with Televisa's satellite service.

MVS is simply using "supposed conflicts with Televisa as an excuse to cover up its legal and business deficiencies," Televisa countered, in a statement, adding that Televisa is interested in "more competition and not monopolies like the one MVS wants to set up."

It appears to be a futile effort on the part of MVS: MVS vice-president Jose Antonio Abad told Reuters that the company offered to pay $340 million to keep 140 MHz of the spectrum for use for 10 years. The government rejected the offer.