By Julia Love
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's telecommunications regulator, IFT, said on Thursday that any operator could participate in a spectrum auction this year, opening the door for billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil to bid.
This year, the regulator will auction 120 MHz of radioelectric spectrum in the 2500-2690 MHz frequency band that can be used for wireless services, the IFT said in a statement.
"In reality nobody, no operator is restricted a priori from participating, but effectively we have determined spectrum caps," Alejandro Navarrete, the head of spectrum at the IFT, said on local radio. He said the caps would be determined by the amount of spectrum the operators already have.
The auction has drawn strong interest from operators because it is well-suited for broadband, 5g mobile networks and the so-called Internet of Things, said Federico Hernandez Arroyo, a partner who specializes in telecommunications at law firm Hogan Lovells.
"It is considered as the band for the following generation," he said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.
Slim's America Movil, which has long dominated Mexico's telecommunications market, acquired a slice of the desirable spectrum last year, purchasing the rights to 60 MHz of the band from Grupo MVS.
As the IFT prepared to auction off the rest of the spectrum, competitors called for strict limits to be placed on America Movil's participation, Arroyo said.
A spokeswoman for AT&T and a spokesman for America Movil declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Telefonica did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sunil Nair)