Sint Maarten’s fourth mobile licence has been formally issued to Beach Mart NV, a company reportedly owned by local businessman Elwaldo Arrindell. Governor Eugene Holiday signed a ‘landsbesluit’ (ordinance) rubber-stamping the concession earlier this month, and the company was duly handed a 20-year concession, which is due to expire in August 2034. Arrindell, who was initially granted a ‘business licence’ on 28 August 2012 by former communications minister Romeo Pantophlet, has openly coveted a mobile concession since 1997.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Sint Maarten is currently home to two active mobile operators in the form of state-owned TelEm Group (TelCell) and pan-Caribbean mobile group United Telecommunication Services (UTS). A third would-be player, Corporate Innovations, is waiting in the wings after the hard-fought battle to see its long-held concession endorsed by the government was belatedly approved in October 2012, also by Governor Holiday.
It is believed that both companies are technically permitted to team up with a strategic partner, a clause that is likely to pique the interest of pan-Caribbean players such as Digicel and LIME, both of which have expressed an interest in Sint Maarten in the past. That said, with a wireless population penetration rate of around 175% at 31 March 2014, Sint Maarten ranks as the third most saturated mobile market in the Caribbean, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, suggesting limited opportunities for the new entrant(s).