Mexico cuts Rivada out of wireless bid

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Ministry excludes Rivada networks from bidding from Mexico’s national wholesale mobile network, leaving one competitor in the running

Rivada Networks says it will appeal against Mexico’s decision to exclude it from bidding for the country’s planned national wholesale mobile network.

Only one bidder, a local consortium, is now in contention for the project, called Red Compartida – or shared network. That group, Altan, is expected to be awarded the contract next week.

Red Compartida has been set up to build a shared-access mobile network that will provide coverage across rural Mexico. It is seen as an attempt to reduce the power of dominant operator América Móvil, which is owned by Mexican businessman Carlos Slim.

A part-owned subsidiary of Rivada is also bidding for the US emergency services wholesale network, FirstNet, against one known competitor, AT&T. A decision is expected within weeks.

In a fiery outburst on Twitter, Irish businessman Declan Ganley, who heads Rivada, said: “Unexpected disqualification of Rivada … raises questions around integrity of process clouding future investments”, and added, “but we trust Mexico’s judicial system”. He said Rivada would appeal against the disqualification.

He told the Irish Independent that Rivada had letters of credit for the security required by Mexico, even though the Ministry for Communications and Transportation (SCT) said there was no such financial guarantee. But in a late-breaking development, Ganley told Global Telecoms Business that Mexico has now admitted receiving the funds from Rivada. "They have now acknowledged that they got the billion peso letter of credit on Oct 31st," he said.

Altan, Rivada’s competitor in Mexico, is backed by Axtel, Megacable and the International Finance Corporation.

Ganley said via Twitter that the project is “is one of [the] Mexican government’s most ambitious projects benefiting millions of Mexicans, if done right.”

It “would give high-speed mobile internet to millions of Mexicans, especially those in rural and poorly connected areas”, adding: “We want to be a partner in Mexico’s economic development and we have the technology and expertise to make Red Compartida a success”.

He said: “It would be a shame if an initiative as visionary as Red Compartida wasn’t enabled with the technology and team that such vision merits.”