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Virgin to rival Telcel with new Mexican cell phone network

September 30, 2013

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British billionaire Richard Branson plans to challenge Carlos Slim’s dominance of the Mexican mobile market by introducing Virgin Mobile as a competitor of Slim’s Telcel.

Virgin Mobile Mexico will open a virtual network next year, buying airtime wholesale from an established telecommunications company, rather than taking on massive costs by building new masts, according to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

Branson has already introduced his Virgin Mobile service to Chile and Colombia, although it may prove more difficult to secure a significant market share in Mexico, where Telcel currently serves around 70 percent of the 100 million cell phone users. However, Branson will have taken encouragement from recent anti-monopoly legislation which will encourage competition in the telecommunications and television sectors by creating a new industry regulator and imposing a 50-percent market share limit.

“I think there’s room for both of us. I don’t think [Slim] will suffer much from our presence,” Branson said last week.

Branson has an estimated fortune of 4.6 billion dollars, but this pales in comparison with the 73 billion dollars that Slim, the world’s richest man, has amassed, largely through his monopolization of telecommunications in Mexico.

Asked this week about Branson’s plans to move into the Mexican market, Slim’s spokesperson and son-in law Arturo Elias Ayub responded, “competition is always welcomed.”

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