New Economy, Old Politics: The Mexican Experience of Economic Restructuring using Competition Policy in Telecommunications, 1990 to 2004

Poster_Final Version_Mexican Telecoms


Designer Debbie Tam worked with researcher Sara GrossEconomic History to produce to print poster to visualise international, regional and domestic forces between 1990-2004 that have shaped the development of competition policy in  Mexican telecommunications.


The Research

Sara says ‘My story is about the creation of an enormously powerful and entrenched private national champion, Telmex and the world’s wealthiest man for many years, the company’s Mexican owner, Carlos Slim. The privatization of phone services in Mexico was supposed to lead to market competition. Instead, Telmex became a virtual monopoly that 23 years after its privatization remains what has been seemingly untouchable. Telmex and Telcel have been allowed by a succession of Mexican governments to charge some of the highest rates in the world.

My study demonstrates that international and regional trade agreements and accompanying external attention and ‘pressure’ can advance liberalization reforms, including encouraging adjustments to consolidate reform. It also reveals how and why “domestic political economy factors ultimately determine the long-run success or failure of policy reform”. Mexican domestic factors have stalled the country’s economic development and growth. Competition policy in telecommunications is an excellent case study.

My research supports the importance of responsible policy making that can create ‘a new economy’. It makes the case that it is urgent for governments to take action – creating robust economies, causing justice and wealth; competition and poverty alleviation; level playing fields, where everyone who wants to can be engaged in the economy. It shows the importance for governments to break through perpetual conversations, the bottlenecks that have stalled the consolidation (‘second-level’ reforms) of competition policy and competition in telecommunications that are essential in causing domestic economic development and growth’. 


Design by Debbie Tam, MA Graphic Branding and Identity

Debbie says ‘The aim of this project was to show the complexity of domestic and external forces that have shaped the Competition policy in Mexican Telecommunications. I used different ways to explore and analyse the data. I started by noting down events that happened at different months and years. I soon realised that a lot has happened in 15 years, so I decided to focus on the most condense year, 2001. I used three colours to represent the national, international and regional events. In each event, I used bold to represent the level of importance and red to show a turning point. Since it is impossible to include too many details, we met with Sara several times to shorten the sentences. After that I did a rough draft of the timeline to get an idea of how the design would look like. I decided to go for a spiral timeline with an open end instead of curving it. With the spiral design I wanted communicate what the governments’ and presidents’ were doing in the past whereas with the open end I wanted to represent the actions of the new president. The final design contains four layers: international, regional, domestic factors and comment’.

Debbie takes us through her design approach in her visual summary and process film