Mexico Telecom Reform Moves After OK From 24 States; President Set to Sign

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By Ivan Castano  

MEXICO CITY--Mexico's sweeping telecommunications reform bill has been approved by 24 state legislatures, making it constitutional and setting the stage for enactment of secondary laws that will implement it, the Senate announced May 22.

The bill has been sent to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to sign it before the end of the month and publish it on the nation's official diary, a Senate spokeswoman confirmed.

On April 30, Mexico's Senate approved the overhaul, which aims to inject much-needed competition and efficiency into Latin America's second-largest telecommunications market.

The initiative needed approval by 17 state legislatures before becoming law as it required changes to Mexico's Constitution.

The states that approved it include Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Morelos, Nayarit, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatan and Zacatecas.

Part of Ambitious Economic Strategy

The law was passed as part of Pena Nieto's main presidential strategy (Pact for Mexico), which aims to propel the nation's economic growth through a slew of ambitious reforms. The overhaul calls for the creation of one overarching and powerful industry regulator, called Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Ifetel), which will replace the weaker incumbent regulator Cofetel. Ifetel is expected to launch asymmetric regulations to gradually break down the country's two main monopolies, Telmex and Telcel, and Latin America's largest broadcaster, Televisa.

The Senate did not say when the secondary laws will be launched but noted they will establish rules for the usage of telecom and radio frequencies and services, as well as spell out the types of penalties that will punish monopolistic practices.