President Enrique Peña Nieto on Monday signed into law the telecommunications reform legislation approved last week by Mexico’s Congress.
The telecom overhaul is aimed at reducing concentration in the industry, which is dominated by America Movil in telephony and Internet services, and Televisa in the broadcasting area, Peña Nieto said during a ceremony at the National Palace.
The Peña Nieto administration unveiled an ambitious telecommunications reform agenda in 2013 in an effort to make the industry more competitive and spur growth.
Mexico, according to World Bank figures, has 86 wireless telephony lines per 100 inhabitants, well below Spain, with 112; Colombia, with 104; Brazil, with 135; and Argentina, with 159.
Landline coverage is even lower, with Mexico boasting just 17 per 100 inhabitants, while Venezuela has 26 per 100 inhabitants, Argentina has 23 per 100 inhabitants and Brazil has 22 per 100 inhabitants.
Mexico’s telecommunications industry is highly concentrated, with two companies holding 95 percent of the 465 licenses for over-the-air television.
The landmark legislation is “a powerful instrument for expanding freedom, strengthening equality and increasing prosperity,” Peña Nieto said.
The legislation guarantees freedom of expression in electronic media, including online outlets, and advances equality by giving people in rural areas the same access to information technology and communications that city dwellers enjoy, and by eliminating barriers for the disabled, the president said.
The telecom industry overhaul will lead to prosperity because it promotes competition, productivity and innovation, while reducing the operating costs of companies of all sizes, Peña Nieto said.
The legislation’s most important contribution is that it will save consumers money, the president said.
Mexico’s lower house of Congress approved the implementing laws for the 2013 telecom overhaul on July 9.
The enabling legislation, among other things, prohibits companies that provide fixed-line or mobile telephony from charging users domestic long-distance fees beginning in 2015.