Cable Bahamas, Digicel and Virgin Mobile each threw their hat into the ring for Bahamas’ second mobile telephony licence, as two locally-based companies – which had previously indicated interest – decided not to take part.

The ‘Cellular Liberalisation Task Force’, in a statement quoted by The Tribune, a local newspaper, said nine groups obtained the request for propoal (RFP) document, but just three came through with completed bids by deadline.

Limitless Mobile and Junkanoo Mobile – the two local companies that seemed to be eying up the second licence – were surprise absentees.

The three offers submitted, which are all likely to meet technical and financial criteria before going through to the ‘spectrum auction’ round, raised no eyebrows as each had flagged up their interest previously – even though one licence condition is that Bahamians own 51 per cent of the second mobile operator.

Digicel, owned by Irishman Denis O’Brien, already has a strong presence in the Caribbean, while Virgin Mobile is present in the US, Chile and Colombia.

Cable Bahamas is long-standing company, too, providing cable TV services in the Bahamas since March 1995 and internet services since March 2000.

According to The Nassau Guardian, the Bahamas expects to award a new licence for the provision of mobile telephony services later this year. The government said spectrum has been made available in the 700MHz, 850MHz, 1700/2100MHz and 1900MHz frequency bands.

The winning bidder will take on Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), which enjoys a monopoly in the Bahamas’ mobile market.