Gov't sets out mobile liberalisation terms


Tribune Business Reporter


The Government expects to award a second cellular license by April 2015 it was disclosed yesterday, with its Task Force announcing that tender documents would be launched today.

Applicants will have until February 11, 2015, to respond to the Request for Proposal (RFP). Michelle Grell-Bereaux, a member of the Task Force headed by former financial secretary Ruth Miller, said applicants will have to pay $5,000 to collect the RFP package, and $25,000 to submit a proposal.

“We expect that once the successful applicant is selected that the new provider would be able to launch service within six months, and that within two to three years depending on the applicant, coverage would be provided throughout The Bahamas,” Ms Grell-Bereaux said.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the RFP launch, Prime Minister Perry Christie said there would be a two-phase selection process.

“The competitive selection process that will be adopted for the award of a second cellular licence is a two-phased approach, involving a technical and financial assessment in phase I, and a spectrum auction in phase II,” he said.

“Only those applicants that satisfy the minimum criteria of phase I will be allowed to participate in phase II. The successful applicant in the end will be the one which acquires the highest combined score of the scores derived in phase I and phase II.”

The Prime Minister added: “In order to receive a copy of the RFP, an interested party must register to participate in the process. All registered entities will have the opportunity to seek clarification on the RFP via a virtual data room that has been set up by the Task Force.

“All queries made, and responses to those queries, will be posted within the data room for all registered entities to see. This will be the only mechanism for persons participating in this process to communicate with the Task Force and/or the Evaluation Committee about this process. The Task Force has projected a timeframe for the selection of a successful candidate within six months.”

Rowena Bethel, the National Insurance Board (NIB) director who is also a member of the Task Force, said that based on the Communications Act 2009, the Government has the option to consider issuing a third cellular license in 2016.

“In the Communications Act passed in 2009, a provision was made for BTC to enjoy a monopoly for a three-year period following privatisation, which would have brought us to April 2014,” she said.

“Under the same provision it guarantees duopoly, two players in the market, until 2016, and in 2016 the law gives the option to consider the entrance of a third licensee into the market.

“All of the prevailing facts and circumstances would be brought to bear before a determination is made. The Government has the option in 2016 to consider a third option, not that it’s going to happen.”


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