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AT&T’s Big Investment Plans for Mexico: 4G LTE

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AT&T’s 4G LTE network in Mexico 

In the previous part of this series, we discussed how AT&T (T) is expected to benefit from its acquisition of DirecTV (DTV). At the same time, AT&T continues to make rapid strides in Mexico. A few days back, AT&T announced that it plans to invest $3 billion to extend its 4G LTE network across Mexico, which would cover 100 million people in Mexico by 2018. This announcement followed the company’s $4.4 billion acquisition of Iusacell and NEXTEL Mexico earlier this year.

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According to a GSMA Intelligence report, at the end of 1Q15, there were 39 live commercial 4G networks in Latin America, covering 15 countries in the region. LTE deployments are gaining momentum, and $170 billion is expected in investment in Latin America over a six-year period from 2015 to 2020, according to the report.

As the above chart indicates, of the 14 countries in Latin America, 11 countries have allocated frequencies in the advanced wireless services (AWS) band between 2009 and 2015. The AWS band uses frequencies ranging from 1,710 to 1,755 megahertz for uplink and 2,110 to 2,155 megahertz for downlink. Over this period, six countries have assigned frequencies in the 2.6 GHz band, while eight countries have assigned frequencies in the 700 Mhz band.

Mexico and 4G coverage

Mexico has taken a different approach toward 4G coverage, with the passage of the country’s telecoms bill leading to the creation of a shared wholesale 4G network across the whole 700 Mhz band. This has given a head-start to AT&T, with its recent acquisitions of Iusacell and NEXTEL Mexico. According to a report in the Mexican newspaper El Financiero, AT&T would hold ~40% to 42% of the radio spectrum allocated for wireless services, which would make it the largest spectrum holder in Mexico.

In comparison, its competitors like Verizon (VZ), T-Mobile (TMUS), and Sprint (S) have yet to make a mark in the Mexican market. You can read more about AT&T’s recent acquisitions here.

You can get diversified exposure to AT&T by investing in the SPDR S&P 500 Fund (SPY), which holds 1.02% of the stock.

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