Thursday, 17 December 2009 8:50 AM

Bemobile Awarded Telecom License

The Evaluation Committee of Solomon Islands decided on Friday 11 December 2009 to award the country's first new entrant telecom licence to bemobile.

Bemobile will receive a 15 year licence to offer mobile telecom services in Solomon Islands, together with the right to use the required radio frequencies.

Bemobile currently provides mobile telecom services in Papua New Guinea. It is supported by its shareholder, US fund GEMS, as well as by Trilogy International Partners. Trilogy International Partners has mobile telecom operations in Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Haiti and New Zealand and recently received the 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence from US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

The licence is to be issued within the next week, subject to fulfilment of various conditions.

Competition between bemobile and the country's incumbent telecom operator, Solomon Telekom, is expected to produce significant benefits for the population of Solomon Islands. bemobile's licence will require it to provide coverage to an increasing percentage of the Solomon Islands population. It must launch operation within six months and reach 81% of the population within 21 months of the issuance of the licence. It has secured its coverage obligations with a US$ 10 million performance bond which will be released in phases as it meets interim coverage requirements.

The Evaluation Committee thanks the other applicants, particularly Digicel, for their participation in the tender process and their interest in Solomon Islands. The Evaluation Committee hopes that there will be other opportunities for them to enter the Solomon Islands telecom market.

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By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province