Mexico awards Red Compartida wholesale broadband deal to Altan group; Rivada Networks disputes decision
Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transport today awarded its much-anticipated Red Compartida 20-year wholesale wireless broadband procurement to the Altan consortium that was the only remaining bidder after last week’s disqualification of Rivada Networks, which is contesting the ruling.
Led by Mexico-based companies Megacable and Axtel, the Altan consortium was deemed to be the only qualified bidder by the Mexican government after the Rivada Networks group was removed from consideration after failing to include a required bond at the time of its bid submission. Company officials claim alternative guarantees were made at the time of the bid submission and that the bid bond was provided before Mexico’s government needed it.
Rivada Networks is pursuing legal challenges to the disqualification decision, but the company does not expect any ruling on the matter until at least next week, according to Rivada Networks spokesman Brian Carney.
Under the Red Compartida procurement, the Altan consortium will get access to 90 MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 700 MHz band that is expected to be leveraged to provide nationwide wireless broadband service that will be offered on a wholesale basis. Altan’s proposal calls for the deployment of a network that would provide coverage to 92.2% of Mexico’s population, according to multiple outlets.
Rivada Networks consortium submitted a bid with much better coverage, according to Rivada Networks co-CEO Declan Ganley.
“No surprise, Rivada’s coverage plan is significantly higher than then only opened bid,” Ganley tweeted. “People of Mexico are being given a raw deal, which is sad.”
Although Mexico’s Red Compartida project is a government-led initiative that calls for the winning contractor to build a nationwide LTE network in the 700 MHz band, there are several significant differences between Red Compartida and the FirstNet effort in the United States.
FirstNet plans call for the contractor to use 20 MHz of spectrum, while the Red Compartida project would provide the winning contractor with access to 90 MHz of contiguous airwaves. In addition, Red Compartida is designed to provide wholesale consumer broadband services, while the focus of FirstNet is to serve public-safety users.
From a financial perspective, the Mexican government is not providing the winning bidder with any funding, Carney has said. The contractor will have to pay a “small spectrum-license fee” and provide the government with 1% of the revenue generated from the project, he said.