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Mexico Telecoms May be Fined for Poor Service
email this pageprint this pageemail usCyntia Barrera Diaz - Reuters
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December 23, 2010

Mexico City - A company controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim as well as an affiliate of broadcaster Televisa could be lightly fined for providing poor service, a Mexican regulator said on Wednesday.

Telecommunications watchdog Cofetel also said this week it will ask congressmen to change the law to boost such sanctions.

Cofetel said it found in an inspection that more than half of all the calls handled by Telcel, the commercial brand under which Slim's America Movil operates in Mexico, failed to connect.

Telcel's cellphone network, which is by far the largest in Mexico, "suffered a glitch that hurt customer service" in November and did not report it promptly, Cofetel said.

The regulator also said Televisa's cable affiliate Cablevision did not get permission to carry out a network overhaul that left thousands of customers with no cable television or Internet services across Mexico City between October and November.

Cofetel will hand the communications ministry a report on the problems. The ministry will ultimately decide whether to apply fines that could range between $93,000 and $187,000.

Cablevision said in a release that problems have been "isolated and temporary" and were due to the upgrading of its network to offer clients better services. The company said customers were informed of such improvements in written form.

Telcel said in a brief statement that Cofetel has yet to send it a formal notification of the planned sanctions.

America Movil had $1.85 billion in third-quarter earnings and Televisa posted a profit of $174 million in the same period.

Service from several key telecom providers in Mexico is notoriously prone to glitches.

In the case of pay television services, light rain or wind can leave many residential zones with no programming for hours or freeze Internet services. A mild earthquake earlier this year left many Cablevision clients in the capital with no web access for nearly a week.

Cofetel said it will ask "Congress to analyze the possibility of reforming the telecommunications law to strengthen the equilibrium between service deserved by customers and sanctions that can be imposed in case such service is not provided."

Televisa shares ended up 0.54 percent at 65.09 pesos on Wednesday while America Movil slipped 0.63 percent to finish at 34.97 pesos. Cablevision last traded on Dec. 13, closing at 29 pesos. ($1 = 12.3 pesos)

(Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Tim Dobbyn)

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