CWC amongst six bidders for mobile licence, frequencies

14 May 2014

UK-based Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), the 49%-shareholder in majority state-owned fixed and mobile operator Telecommunications Services of Trinidad & Tobago (TSTT), has confirmed that it has applied for the country’s third mobile operating licence which has been put up for tender by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT). The regulator has confirmed that six applicants have responded to its Request for Proposals (RFP) for new mobile frequencies and/or a new mobile network operating licence, while CWC’s CEO Phil Bentley confirmed to the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian that the group specifically applied for the latter, in a separate action to TSTT’s application for new 3G/4G spectrum, adding that: ‘We’ve always said we want to invest in Trinidad and that we have to explore all options of doing so.’ Meanwhile TSTT’s acting CEO Rakesh Goswami told the Guardian that: ‘TSTT’s management has not been informed by TATT of any of the applicants that have expressed an interest in being the country’s third mobile provider. If CWC has, in fact, submitted a response to TATT’s invitation for a third mobile provider, this would best be a matter for TATT to comment on.’

TATT confirmed that following the closing date of 30 April 2014 it opened six bid responses to its RFP aimed at attracting providers of advanced mobile data services in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum bands, which came from TSTT and rival cellco Digicel, CWC and three unidentified prospective new entrants. The watchdog said that it expects to complete the tender evaluation process within three to four months, suggesting that 4G LTE services could be launched in the country by the end of this year. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database recalls that TATT published the RFP in September 2013 for three specific competitive licensing tenders:

a) a new mobile network operating licence for a potential third operator;

b) the award of 800MHz and 1900MHz band spectrum to any eligible mobile operators; and

c) the award of 700MHz (4G) spectrum to any eligible mobile operators.

CWC has recently presented proposals to the government of Trinidad & Tobago for taking a majority stake in TSTT, including a pledge to invest USD100 million in the country over three years on projects including comprehensive 4G mobile broadband deployment, corporate data connectivity improvements and subsidised community ICT access ventures. However, the UK firm’s bid to take majority control of TSTT is by no means guaranteed to succeed, with opposition from quarters including the local Communications Workers Union, CommsUpdate reported last month.