U.S.-based operator AT&T has announced that Iusacell and Nextel customers with an AT&T United plan can now access 4G/LTE services in a total of six Mexican cities. The service is available in Atlacomulco in the State of Mexico, Cuernavaca and Cuautla in Morelos, and Pachuca, Tulancingo and Tepeji del Rio in Hidalgo. Customers in the covered areas simply need an LTE-enabled smartphone and SIM card to access the network. In May the operator said it would be in a position to offer solid 4G coverage throughout Mexico by the end of 2016.
This launch of 4G services in six major Mexican municipalities is the first step toward the realization of AT&T’s stated plan to create a North American mobile service area that will eventually cover more than 400 million customers and businesses in Mexico and the U.S. AT&T’s acquisition of Nextel Mexico and Iusacell for a combined total of US $4.4 billion earlier this year gave the U.S. operator the wherewithal to create this cross-border network. Nextel’s network serves some 76 million people in a nation of 120 million, while Iusacell brought AT&T 70 percent coverage and 8.6 million customers. However, in order for AT&T to truly integrate its Mexican network with its U.S. network, the quality levels in the two countries have to match, so it will be key for the company to have 4G in place in Mexico as well as in the U.S. This launch, though limited, points the way forward.