5G Reconfiguration in Mexico May 19, 2020 00:00

In April, El Economista highlighted a transfer of 3.5GHz spectrum in Mexico from Telmex to Telcel.  The article highlights a series of consultations between Telmex, Telcel, AT&T, and the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT).  I will use our Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool (MEX) to examine these transactions and the overall 5G spectrum plans in Mexico.

Our Spectrum Grid from December 2019, reflects the ownership of the 3.5GHz band prior to the Telcel acquisition.  At this point, Telmex, AT&T, and Axtel each owned 50MHz of spectrum (25MHz of uplink and 25MHz of downlink spectrum).  In this view we included a TDD band class 48 which is the only band class defined by 3GPP for this band.  Obviously, systems using this band configuration are not using band class 48 since they are FDD and band class 48 is TDD.

AT&T and Telmex approached the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) in December to request that they exchange AT&T's D channel for Telmex's H channel, providing each carrier with 50MHz blocks of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.  This exchange only makes sense if IFT reconfigured the entire band to TDD spectrum. 

The new configuration is reflected in the image below with Telcel acquiring Telmex's 50MHz channel.  Now Telcel and AT&T are set up with the minimum 5G channel size in one of Mexico's two TDD bands and IFT also has 150MHz of spectrum remaining for a future auction.  It is interesting to note, that both Canada and Mexico have opted for licensing spectrum directly to carriers for their 3.5GHz bands while the USA has gone with the shared spectrum and PAL licensing approach.