CELL phone company bemobile has won the bid to be the sole provider of cell phone network in Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands’ Lifhaus (http://www.-lifhaus.com.sb) reported yesterday the evaluation committee of Solomon Islands has opted to offer the first mobile phone licence to bemobile.
In a draft press release sighted by Lifhaus sources, the committee offered complimentary “thanks to the other applicants, particularly Digicel, for their participation in the tender process and their interest in Solomon Islands”.
bemobile currently provides cell phone services in PNG.
It is supported by its shareholder, US fund GEMS and Trilogy International Partners.
Trilogy has cell phone 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.
Lifhaus also reported that sources had revealed there were persistent rumours suggesting that a last minute ditch by the Digicel top shots was unsuccessful.
It was still unclear if Digicel was outbid, refused or lost out on a more lucrative deal put forward by bemobile, it reported.
But, Lifhaus sources also said the announcement was expected because of Solomon Islands strong partnership “especially in the private sector” with PNG.
“I think it is the strongest indication yet that the Melanesian block is consolidating itself to be a strong trading partner in the region,” the source said.
The evaluation committee’s release also stated that “bemobile’s licence will require it to provide coverage to an increasing percentage of the Solomon Islands population, launching operation within six months, and reaching 81% of the population within 21 months.
It has secured these obligations with a US$ 10 million (K27 million) performance bond which would be released in phases as it meets interim coverage requirements.”
After much of the fanfare and excitement, it would seem Solomon Islands is one nation unlikely to see Digicel enter it any time soon.
A potential customer spoken to indicated that “we have always thought Digicel would come because they were so persistent in their submission and always in the news. This news is a big surprise.”