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Mexico has deal on broadcast spectrum recovery: ministry

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has reached basic agreement with companies holding a chunk of broadcast spectrum that could boost competition in that country's telecommunications market, the Transport and Communications ministry said on Wednesday.

A ministry spokesman said "general" agreement had been reached, but there are details that still need to be worked out. A final accord is likely to be announced later this week or early next week, he added.

The government said last year it wanted to reclaim 68 licenses for the spectrum in the 2.5 gigahertz (GHz) band, 42 of which are held by media firm MVS Comunicaciones.

MVS could not immediately be reached for comment.

What percentage of the 190 megahertz (MHz) spectrum within the band would be reclaimed by the government had not been defined, the spokesman said. Mexican media reports have said the government would recover just over two thirds, but the spokesman said that was not yet settled.

The ministry spokesman said the plan was for those who have the spectrum to provide broadband services from 2015-2016.

The government decided to take back the spectrum after MVS and other companies failed to use it to develop high-speed networks, and was planning to resell it.

Mexico earlier this year passed a major reform to increase competition in phone and Internet services, which are dominated by Carlos Slim's America Movil, and in television, where Emilio Azcarraga's Televisa holds sway.

It includes provisions to "guarantee the optimal use of the 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands under the principles of universal, non-discriminatory, shared and continual usage."

The reform also includes provisions for a national broadband network, but details about it are still unclear.

Analysts have estimated that the 190 MHz in question would be enough to service three companies roughly the size of America Movil, Latin America's biggest phone company.

(Reporting by Dave Graham, Elinor Comlay and Tomas Sarmiento; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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