MEXICO CITY, March 3 (Reuters) - Mexican telecoms giant America Movil bought the largest share of mobile Internet frequencies in a federal auction meant to spur more and better mobile data services, Mexico’s telecoms regulator said on Thursday.
A subsidiary of billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil paid 2.1 billion pesos ($117 million) against the 1.03 billion pesos from new rival AT&T Inc. to grab the airwaves as consumer demand for mobile coverage grows.
Less than half of Mexico’s population is online, according to the latest World Bank figures, though the number of users has been growing rapidly.
The auction offered the 1710-1780 MHz and 2110-2180 MHz bands, and could increase by 29 percent the spectrum available for mobile broadband services, according to the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), the regulator.
America Movil got the 1710-1730, 1760-1780, 2110-2130 and 2160-2180 MHz slices, while AT&T got 1730-1755 and 2130-2155 MHz. IFT said the auction gave each firm more adjacent spectrum, which improves the quality, price and speed of service.
America Movil operates around 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile and fixed lines, while AT&T bought up two local carriers to become the country’s third-largest.
IFT earlier said it will raise about $2.5 billion over the next 15 years from the proceeds of the auction, which includes the initial bids and yearly payments. ($1 = 17.9401 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Miral Fahmy)