The Business Year

Antoine Delaprée

MEXICO - Telecoms & IT

Antoine Delaprée

CEO & Founder, MXT Holdings

Bio

Antoine Delaprée has a master’s in finance from Emlyon Business School and a master’s in international, energy, and finance Policy from Columbia University. He has over 24 years of experience, mainly in the finance sector. He is the CEO & Founder of MXT Holdings, an investment platform dedicated to developing, acquiring, owning, and operating neutral-host communication infrastructure assets in Mexico.

MXT is aiming for its fiber optic networks to provide greater connectivity to underserved parts of Mexico in the long term.

What motivated you to start MXT Holdings?

MXT Holdings is six years old, and when we started, AT&T was just setting up in the country. The administration of former President Nieto was also advancing with the Red Compartida, a unique project using the 700-MHz frequency to provide additional coverage and capacity all over Mexico. Those two drivers were the main initiatives for us to start the company in 2015. We kicked off operations investing and building telecommunication towers, which is similar to real estate. You lease a property on the long-term, you install a metal structure (tower), and then you rent space on the tower to different wireless operators. The main mobile network operators (MNOs) in Mexico are Telcel (part of América Móvil), AT&T, Telefónica (Movistar), and Altán Redes, which operates Red Compartida. MXT is driven by its neutrality, and our main goal is to share our communication infrastructure with our clients.

What main opportunities did you identify in developing a fiber optic network?

We started by investing and owning telecommunication towers, though we also saw an opportunity to invest in long-haul, fiber-optic networks. We are observing an evolution of wireless and wireline networks architecture and saw a convergence of several classes of communication infrastructure assets: telecom towers, which we started with; fiber optic networks; and data centers. Fiber optic is the glue that binds everything, transporting data from both data centers and telecommunication towers. There is insufficient fiber capacity in Mexico, considering the size of its geography, demography, and economy. In 2018, we decided to focus on investing in fiber in the Southeast of Mexico, a gateway to Central America and the Yucatán peninsula, though it is also an underserved market, with aging and saturated fiber infrastructure. Our strategy is to invest in fiber infrastructure and lease it for the long term, though trying not to compete against our clients. In the Southeast, we mainly focus on building new fiber routes that do not exist and provide redundancy to carriers in the market. In Chiapas, we own a long-haul fiber-optic network that we acquired in 2018, which goes from Tuxtla Gutierrez to Tapachula, with the intention to connect to the border with Guatemala. In Tabasco, we own a fiber-optic network, which we acquired in 2019, that connects eight metropolitan areas, and it is growing. In Quintana Roo, we own a 100% underground, long-haul, fiber-optic network, which we acquired in 2020 and runs all along Riviera Maya, from Cancún to Chetumal. To the extent possible, we also try to leverage the rights of way of the infrastructure assets that our main shareholder owns. For example, we are currently deploying underground fiber between the cities of Mérida and Cancún along one of the highways controlled by our shareholders. We hope the fiber-optic networks we are building will provide greater connectivity to this part of Mexico in the long term.

In what ways do you strive to collaborate with other telecom players in the market?

We are a neutral host; we are here to share our communication infrastructure, and in the end, this results in more efficiency and better use of resources. 20 years ago, when mobile networks were being built, MNOs had to invest and own their wireless infrastructure, which was strategic and a competitive advantage. However, the trend in the last few years has been to divest this passive infrastructure, especially in the Americas, to long-term investors, enabling MNOs to recycle capital and invest in frequencies and technology to prepare the next generation of wireless networks. Today, with 4G and 5G deployment, MNOs would choose to invest in frequencies and new wireless equipment rather than in passive infrastructure. It is usually more capital efficient for them to lease it from us and invest in technology that actually makes a difference, generate higher margins for them and providing a better experience to users.

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