FCC hints at cure to mobile interference woes with Mexico

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all worried about interference from Mexico's Altán Redes. The FCC's new chief appears determined to address the situation.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

March 3, 2021

2 Min Read
FCC hints at cure to mobile interference woes with Mexico

The FCC's new boss recently held a call with her counterpart in Mexico. The development could pave the way for some kind of fix to the interference problems along the US-Mexico border that have affected AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

"It was a pleasure to meet with [Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones] Interim Chairman [Adolfo] Cuevas this afternoon and discuss the ways our two countries can best collaborate on the technology and connectivity challenges facing our respective citizens," Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a recent release. "I welcome the opportunity to strengthen relationships with our international partners to build a brighter, more digitally connected world."

Importantly, the release indicated that the conversation covered "the use of radio spectrum in different frequency bands along the US-Mexico border" and the "elimination of counterproductive spectrum interferences." But it did not provide details, and FCC officials declined to comment beyond the release.

Nonetheless, such language is noteworthy considering AT&T (through its FirstNet effort) as well as T-Mobile and Verizon have all suggested that their mobile services along the border have been affected by the 700MHz LTE network being built by Mexico's Altán Redes. Called Red Compartida, the network stems from a public-private partnership between the Mexican government and Altán Redes to construct a wholesale wireless network covering at least 92.2% of the Mexican population by 2024.

According to a document T-Mobile filed with the FCC in 2020, the situation is severe: The operator said that it has been forced to shut down or power down hundreds of cell sites along the border due to interference from Altán Redes.

US government officials have declined to comment on the issue beyond official documents. However, the situation may stem from the strained relationship between the US and Mexico due in part to former President Trump's many negative statements and actions toward Mexico. Rosenworcel – President Biden's FCC appointee – may be looking for a chance to reset relations.

"As part of their introductory virtual meeting, both regulatory chairs highlighted their shared commitment to advancing connectivity and the continued development of the telecommunications sector in the United States and Mexico," the FCC said of the recent meeting.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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