There’s been some surprise news from Mexico, where a major name in telecommunications leading a project to close the country’s digital divide has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Mexican telecommunications company Altan Redes has since 2016 been developing an ambitious telecommunications network (known as the Red Compartida). It is a shared network, built for carriers delivering what is described as 4.5G LTE voice and data that allows for easy migration to 5G.
The shared network is part of a reform to the sector aimed at improving low levels of mobile phone penetration and network coverage in the country. It is also hoped that the shared network will help to curb the dominance of the giant America Movil, controlled by the family of billionaire Carlos Slim.
As we reported earlier this year, Altán Redes recently signed an agreement with the national government so that operators Telcel, AT&T and Movistar can connect to its network.
However, a recent Reuters report indicates that Altan Redes has now filed for bankruptcy. The company has said it is seeking protection under Mexican law to renegotiate its debts. It added that it would “continue with the deployment of its network and the operation of the most important telecommunications project in the history of the country”.
According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Altan Redes is a consortium including Axtel, Megacable and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). After winning a government tender it began work on establishing an open-access 700MHz wholesale network. This now covers 72.782 million people, or just under 65 percent of the population.
However, the consortium has already had coverage problems. It missed its January 2021 coverage target, which was 70 percent, and, according to local newspaper El Universale, plans to ask the federal government to extend the target date of 92.2 percent coverage of the population from 2024 to 2028 due to lack of financial resources.