CBL, Digicel and Virgin compete for second licence

13 Feb 2015

The Bahamian government has received three bids for the nation’s second mobile licence and is on track to name a winner in May, Tribune 242 writes. Nine domestic and international firms registered for the Request for Proposals (RFP) package, but only three bids were submitted. Local triple-play provider Cable Bahamas Ltd (CBL) has thrown its hat into the ring alongside pan-Caribbean provider Digicel and UK-backed Virgin Mobile, which offers services in its other markets as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Other hopefuls had included local firms Limitless Bahamas (formerly IP Solutions International [IPSI]) and newcomer Junkanoo Mobile. The concession will be awarded via a two-stage process, the first phase of which will see the three proposals evaluated by a committee of experts and members of the government’s Cellular Liberalisation Task Force (CLTF). The second stage comprises a spectrum auction, which will be carried out by sector watchdog the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).

CBL president and CEO Anthony Butler commented on his company’s bid: ‘We have really pulled out all the stops for this submission, staking our claim to become the Bahamas’ first company to offer an alternative in the market.’ The official added that CBL has been working on its proposal since November to ensure that it reflects the company’s technical and financial credentials. Alongside its proposal, CBL has also launched an advertising campaign to drum up support for its application using the slogan ‘We’re ready – Turn us on!’ The operator has also taken to social media networks to raise awareness and support, highlighting its Bahamian ownership and the potential benefits customers can expect from a competitive mobile market.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the government has imposed strict limits on the new licensee’s ownership structure, requiring at least 51% to be owned by Bahamians. Initially, the majority stake will be owned by the government, the PM confirmed earlier this week, although the state’s involvement is primarily to facilitate the transfer of the shares to private Bahamian investors. It is unclear, however, whether CBL will be subject to this requirement, as it is already wholly owned by Bahamian investors.

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