Televisa challenges Slim: offers mobile phone service with unlimited internet for 250 pesos per month
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Mexican broadcaster Televisa said Sunday it will begin offering mobile phone services, an attempt to challenge billionaire Carlos Slim's América Móvil , which has long dominated the country's telecommunications market.
Rather than building infrastructure, Televisa will function as a Virtual Mobile Operator, or MVNO, and will begin offering service to existing clients of its home internet and cable packages sold under its Izzi brand. The station will rent space on Mexico's shared telecommunications network, operated by Altán Redes.
Televisa originally planned to roll out the service in September, Izzi CEO Salvi Folch said in an interview. But as coronavirus cases rose, executives felt the economic crisis stemming from the disease would create increased demand for low-priced phone packages and will now launch the service on Monday.
"The pandemic made us accelerate our plans," Folch said. "(Some of our clients) are going to have to spend less on some services (...) We see it as an opportunity," he added.
Televisa follows in the footsteps of US cable companies such as Comcast Corp and Charter Communications Inc that have ventured into the mobile market as OMV in recent years.
Mexico has long struggled to promote competition in telecommunications, even passing a constitutional reform in 2013 aimed at loosening Slim's grip on the market.
However, global telecom titans like AT&T and Telefónica have failed to significantly erode Slim's market share, and América Móvil still has around two-thirds of mobile phone lines, according to statistics from Mexican telecoms regulator IFT.
Some industry experts argue that the key to boosting competition is facing América Móvil and Televisa, the king of Mexican broadcasting.
Televisa's cellular service will be priced at 250 pesos a month (about $ 11.2) per line with unlimited data, approximately 80% cheaper than comparable packages from América Móvil , the station said. The company will offer phone plans to approximately 3 million households in 17 Mexican cities.
Televisa could consider expanding the service beyond its own clients in the future , Folch said, but starting with existing users will allow the company to capitalize on economies of scale.
The broadcaster will also save by directing customers to buy phones from other providers , rather than financing devices.
The company has struggled in recent years as broadcasters around the world grapple with declining ratings. The new offering will strengthen the company's telecommunications units , which have become its largest money provider, generating about 70% of net sales in the first quarter.