In December 1990, Mexico sold its state-owned telephone system, Mexican Telephone (Teléfonos de México--Telmex), to private investors in the country's largest and most complicated privatization. The government sold majority voting rights and a 20 percent stake in Telmex to a consortium of investors for US$1.8 billion, and it sold US$3.7 billion in shares to the public in two public offerings. Nevertheless, customers continued to complain about delays in contacting operators, installing new phones, and receiving service upgrades.
In 1995 the Telmex network had some 8.7 million phone lines in service. Almost 13 percent of all international calls from the United States were made to Mexico in 1993, while more than 90 percent of Mexico's long-distance calls were made to the United States.
To improve service quality, Telmex inaugurated a US$30 billion modernization program in conjunction with its partners, Southwestern Bell Corporation and France Telecom, in 1993. In early 1994, the United States telecommunications company Microwave Communications International (MCI) announced plans to collaborate with Banamex-Accival Financial Group (Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival--Banacci), Mexico's largest financial group, in building a new long-distance telephone network in Mexico. The two companies valued the joint venture at US$1 billion, of which MCI would invest US$450 million. In early 1994, telephone industry analysts expected Mexico's US$6 billion long-distance telephone market to continue or exceed its 14 percent annual growth rate. The high growth rate stemmed from increased telephone communications between the United States and Mexico resulting from NAFTA and the government's stated intention to open the long-distance market to foreign competition in January 1997.
Mexico uses four Atlantic Ocean satellite ground stations and one Pacific Ocean satellite ground station of the International Telecommunications Satellite Corporation (Intelsat). Mexico is also connected to the Central American Microwave System. In 1985 the Mexican-owned Morelos-B domestic telecommunications satellite was launched from the United States space shuttle Atlantis. Morelos-B was replaced in 1993 by another Mexican-owned domestic telecommunications satellite, Solidarity I.
In 1993 Mexico had more than 700 commercial amplitude modulation (AM) radio stations, including 679 stations operating on mediumwave, and twenty-two AM shortwave stations. The country has a number of large commercial radio networks, including National Radio Network (Radio Cadena Nacional) and Mexico Radio Programs (Radio Programas de México). Mexico also has some cultural radio stations, operated either by public agencies or by educational institutions. In 1996 Mexico had 21 million radios.
The most important state-run radio systems are the Mexican Radio Institute (Instituto Mexicano de la Radio--IMER), which operates two networks, Mexico Radio (Radio México) and Exact Time Radio (Radio la Hora Exacta); the Education Ministry's Education Radio (Radio Educación), which has a reputation for objectivity; and Radio UNAM (UNAM Radio), run by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México--UNAM). The private commercial sector is dominated by some twenty radio networks. Ninety-two percent of stations belong to a network; 72 percent belong to or are controlled by ten networks; and half are controlled by the top five. The main networks include the Acir Group (Grupo Acir), which controls 140 stations and produces three major news programs daily for national distribution; the Radio Promotional Organization (Organización Impulsora de Radio--OIR); Radio and Television Agency (Agentes de Radio y Televisión--ARTSA), and Mexico Radio Programs.
Data as of June 1996