AT&T to buy Nextel Mexico, continuing continental expansion

AT&T’s plans to tackle the Mexico market aren’t just limited to buying a single mobile operator Iusacell. It announced Monday it is buying Iusacell’s competitor Nextel Mexico for $1.875 billion from NII Holdings and will merge its operations into its growing pan-American network.

[company]AT&T[/company] closed its $2.5B deal for Iusacell earlier this month, making it the third largest mobile carrier in Mexico. Adding Nextel’s 3 million subscribers will give AT&T about 12.2 million customers in Mexico, but it will remain a distant third place to Mexican giant [company]América Móvil[/company].

Nextel Mexico is one of the many companies to carry the Nextel brand throughout North and South America. The most famous version Nextel Communications was acquired by Sprint a decade ago, and its brand was only recently retired. But several other Nextel’s continued operating in different countries under the [company]NII Holdings[/company] umbrella. NII filed for bankruptcy last year, so the AT&T offer has to go through the bankruptcy court. That means it could trigger a potential auction for Nextel Mexico’s assets.

Like the other Nextels, Nextel Mexico runs iDEN Networks, which were once celebrated for their walkie-talkie-like push-to-talk capabilities but fell out of use during the mobile data revolution. Nextel Mexico, however, has since launched a 3G network based on HSPA technology that lines up with AT&T’s technology. It’s also launched LTE in three major cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.