MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's government on Thursday kick-started a project to launch a state-owned mobile network by 2018, part of a wider effort to support competitors to billionaire Carlos Slim's dominant America Movil.
Mexico's telecoms regulator and the telecommunications and transport ministry (SCT) agreed on terms and conditions for the development of the network in a first step toward launching it, according to a statement from the regulator.
Six telecom equipment makers are carrying out field studies for the public-private project, deputy SCT minister Jose Ignacio Peralta said in the statement.
Telecom equipment makers Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson have already helped a consortium place a bid to build the network, Reuters reported last month.
Mexico's government, which estimates the network will require an investment of about $10 billion over 10 years, wants to pick a winner in mid-2015, two sources told Reuters.
The regulator said in its statement that it agreed on a timetable for the project with the SCT, but it did not give details of any key dates.
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto has bet that opening up the telecom sector will boost economic growth, going so far as to put the mobile network project into the constitution with a completion date of late 2018, to prevent lobbying efforts to halt it.
(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Ken Wills)