ICE slips out of contention for Nicaraguan licence

13 Nov 2012

According to La Prensa.com.ni, Costa Rica’s state-owned power and telecoms company Grupo Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Grupo ICE), which offers mobile services in its domestic market under the ‘ICE Celular’ brand, has confirmed that it is no longer interested in participating in the Nicaraguan government’s upcoming tender for two new mobile licences. Despite acquiring bidding documents from regulator Instituto Nicaraguense de Telecomunicaciones y Correos (Telcor) last month, ICE CEO Teofilo de la Torre has now dismissed his company’s interest in the tender as an ‘exploration’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September Telcor launched a tender for two new mobile licences in the 1785MHz-1805MHz band, with a view to breaking up the long-standing Claro/Movistar duopoly. Both concessions will allow the introduction of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology and be geared towards operators which are prepared to concentrate on the deployment of rural-focused services. When announcing the tender Castillo indicated that a number of unspecified companies from China, South Korea and Taiwan had already lodged an interest in the tender.

In related news, Prensa has suggested that Beijing-based research and development firm Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group – one of seven companies to have acquired bidding documents – is the clear front-runner for one of the two concessions. The news portal insists that the bidding conditions have been engineered to favour the Chinese company, which it claims has strong links to Laureano Ortega, the son of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. The licences, which were initially expected to be priced at around USD90 million apiece, are now expected to be made available at a reduced fee of USD20 million each.