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AT&T to invest $3 bln to boost Mexico mobile network

(Adds details from statement, industry background)

MEXICO CITY, June 25 (Reuters) - AT&T Inc plans to invest around $3 billion in its high-speed mobile Internet network in Mexico, the company said on Thursday.

AT&T, which owns Mexico's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers Iusacell and Nextel, said in a statement it expects to cover 40 million people, about one-third of the population, within six months. It aims to reach 100 million by end-2018.

The company's move into Mexico came in the wake of a sweeping sector overhaul which forced billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil to open up infrastructure and let rivals interconnect to his network for free.

The company's Mexico chief executive, Thaddeus Arroyo, said in May that it will take a couple of years to get the business where the company wants.

A major part of the reform was a plan to tender the building of a wholesale mobile broadband network that will require an investment of around $7 billion.

The network will need at least some operators to become clients in order to attract investors, the minister in charge of the project said in May.

(Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Matthew Lewis)