United States and Mexico
Analysis

Spotlight: China Unicom's 30-year Mexico license

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Spotlight: China Unicom's 30-year Mexico license

Mexico’s telecoms watchdog IFT granted state telco China Unicom a 30-year permit to operate in the country that could pave the way for the deployment of fiber networks and, eventually, the offering of retail mobile services.

The license, first reported by local paper El Economista, is dated August 11 and was granted to China Unicom México for the provision of data and connectivity solutions to corporates, according to the regulator’s concessions database.

IFT’s concession title for commercial use said China Unicom may offer data transmission, capacity provision, dedicated links, commercialization of capacity and services owned by other concession-holders, and “any telecoms and broadcasting service that is technically feasible, considering the required infrastructure and transmission means, its own or by third-parties.”

IFT's records show that China Unicom filed the license request in March and that the regulator's board voted in favor in July.

Also, according to IFT's files, the company requested a commercial permit “with the goal of deploying a telecoms network” to provide the data and connectivity services covered by the concession. 

This suggests the company could build a terrestrial fiber network, similar to the ones being rolled out by local telcos, as well as by carriers-of-carriers such as Arelion, Zayo, Alestra, Megacable, Ascenty, Neutral Networks, Cirion, and others.

It is not clear if China Unicom will eventually offer retail mobile and fixed telecom services, but the permit allows this possibility. 

The concession gives the company the right “to provide all types of public telecommunications and broadcasting services for profit, through the infrastructure associated with a public telecommunications network or broadcasting stations, under the terms and conditions described in this title.”

IFT also said that if the concession-holder opts for using spectrum bands or orbital resources, it may do so under the terms of the current legislation.

The document also states that these services “must be subject to the political constitution of [Mexico], to the international treaties to which the Mexican State is a party, laws, regulations, decrees, rules, fundamental technical plans, technical provisions, official Mexican standards, technical standards, guidelines, resolutions, agreements, circulars and other general administrative provisions, as well as to the conditions established in this title.”

On its website, China Unicom Americas said that it provides reliable and integrated end-to-end telecommunication services and solutions and that it is “a trusted partner of US-based businesses seeking one-stop connectivity with China and beyond.”

In January, however, US regulator FCC revoked China Unicom Americas' authorization to operate on national security grounds.

Another Chinese company, China Telecom, also had to shutter its US operations this year following an FCC ruling. China Telecom filed a lawsuit against the order, but the appeal was rejected.

FCC this month also announced plans to ban sales of Huawei and ZTE products in the US.

LATAM

In addition to Mexico, China Unicom is also licensed to operate in Brazil.

In 2018, the company launched a Brazilian office to operate the South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL) cable, a submarine system that links Fortaleza in Brazil to Kribi in Cameroon.

The 6,000km cable is a joint investment by Cameroon Mobile Telecommunications (Camtel) and China Unicom. The entire project has been carried out by Huawei Marine Networks. 

Hong Kong-headquartered China Unicom Global has 31 subsidiaries and offices worldwide and 11 points-of-Presence in 70 countries or regions.

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