An untested, almost unheard of business model? Check. The animosity of most traditional telecommunications operators? Check. A seemingly small pool of potential customers? Check that box too.

These are some of the challenges that Mexico's controversial Red Compartida 4G wholesale network needs to overcome on its way to becoming a successful business case.

Launched in March, Red Compartida aims to become a carrier of carriers, a wholesale high-speed mobile network on which retail-level wireless service providers can rely for capacity using the dedicated 700MHz band in a network that is expected to reach over 92% of the country's 130mn+ residents by the middle of the next decade.

Red Compartida became enshrined in Mexico's 2013 constitutional telecommunications reform, which increased competition in the local market and, among other things, allowed the entrance of US giant AT&T as a disruptive player in a sector that up to then was unevenly split between Carlos Slim's América Móvil and Spain's Telefónica.

The idea behind it, as the constitution puts it, is "to promote effective access to broadband communications and telecommunications services by the population" in a country that five years into the enactment of the reform still falls behind most large economies in the Americas in terms of internet and broadband availability.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in 2017 Mexico ranked 18th out of 35 nations in the Americas in terms of ICT development, behind crisis-stricken Venezuela and far below its two partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), the US and Canada, which take the first and second spots.

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