AT&T is accelerating its plans to build its North American Mobile Service area, pumping an additional $3 billion into extending LTE into Mexico.
The carrier spent $4.4 billion earlier this year to acquire two Mexican operators, Iusacell and Nextel Mexico, cutting its cost spending forecast at the same time as the result of the acquisitions, and its pending takeover of DirecTV. (See AT&T's Mexican Capex Dance, AT&T to Buy Nextel Mexico for $1.9B and AT&T Names Iusacell CEO, Closes Acquisition.)
Even so, it's opening its wallet again to show its commitment to Mexican regulators and to ensure it can reach 100 million people with high-speed mobile Internet by 2018. When its North American Mobile Service area is complete, it will reach 400 million people and businesses in the US and Mexico. (See Leading Lights Finalists: Best Deal Maker.)
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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Chairman Randall Stephenson said Thursday that reforms made by Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexico Congress are enabling it to accelerate its plans for the region. AT&T laid out its timeline for the region as follows:
- Now: AT&T's prepaid GoPhone customers on $60 data plans have gotten free calling to Mexico since February. Those postpaid customers on World Connect Value plans can also get unlimited calls to Mexico as a $5 add-on. (See AT&T Makes More Moves in Mexico.)
- Next month: AT&T will introduce calling plans that let Mexicans use their individual plans while in the US and enable them to use Google Play billing on Android devices.
- This summer: It is rolling out "Nuestra Promesa" (Our Promise), encouraging employees to commit to the service excellence standard it has in the US, as well as launching the "It Can Wait" no texting while driving campaign in Mexico City and bringing Amber Alerts to the region.
- Next six months: AT&T will roll out phase one of its mobile network, covering 40 million Mexicans or one third of the population.
- End of 2016: The carrier plans to reach 75 million people, or two thirds of the population.
- End of 2018: AT&T says it will reach 100 million people by then.
AT&T also pledged to be one of the best employers in Mexico, offering tuition support to employees next year, launching a Mexico chapter of the Women of AT&T employee resource group later this year and working with colleges to recruit female STEM students. Of note, women currently hold 25% of leadership positions in the carrier's Mexico operations, up from 10% when the company entered the market earlier this year. (See Breakfast of Champions: Women in Tech at BTE.)
AT&T completed its acquisition of Iusacell in January and Nextel Mexico in April. Outside of integrating the employee culture and unifying its offers between the US and Mexico, AT&T is also focused on the sizable task of integrating Iusacell's 3G HSPA+ network with Nextel Mexico's iDEN network and its own LTE footprint.
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading