Claro offers new licensee Xinwei a warm welcome as plot thickens around Chinese firm

18 Jan 2013

Claro Nicaragua has welcomed regulator Telcor’s decision to inject fresh competition into the domestic wireless sector with the award of an 1800MHz concession to Beijing-based research and development firm Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group. TeleSemana quotes a Claro representative as saying: ‘[We welcome] any serious investor resulting from a competitive international bidding process prompted by the government … We hope that the company contributes to the economic development of Nicaragua and leads to the increased levels of investment that the country needs to reduce the digital divide, especially in rural areas’. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate earlier this week, although Telcor has yet to formally confirm the licence award, its chief Orlando Castillo told the Nicaraguan media that Xinwei has promised to invest USD700 million in the first stage of launching operations, rising to USD2 billion by 2015.

TeleGeography notes that Xinwei was widely considered the front-runner for one of the two concessions in the 1785MHz-1805MHz band, and the rumoured licence award has sparked a flurry of speculation linking the company to Laureano Ortega, son of President Daniel Ortega, and the head of investment agency ProNicaragua, which is said to have had a hand in the deal. Further, the price of the concession is said to have been slashed from USD90 million to USD20 million, again prompting accusations of nepotism. Although reports of Xinwei’s receipt of a licence only emerged in the press this month, the Chinese company’s website reveals that it was actually granted its concession on 22 November last year, with a press release indicating that it plans to roll out a network based on multi-carrier wireless in the local loop (McWiLL) SCDMA. The little-known local access platform, which is trademarked by Xinwei, has reportedly been deployed in numerous markets worldwide, most recently Cambodia, in May 2012.