FIJI MOBILE PHONE LICENSES COST PRETTY PENNY

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Companies paying up to $5 million in fees

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 23, 2008) – Each company that will be given a mobile phone licence next week to operate in Fiji will be paying up to US$5 million in licence and other fees.

The figure was revealed by a bidder who does not want to be named.

"We are not talking small fees here," says the bidder.

Aside from this, each of the four companies have been required to pay US$2 million as a non-refundable deposit.

"This is despite the fact that we are not guaranteed a licence," the bidder said.

When contacted today Communications Minister Tom Ricketts refused to comment on how much each mobile phone bidder who was shortlisted had to pay in deposit.

And nor would he reveal how much each bidder would be paying in licence and other fees.

But if the figures given by the bidder are correct, government looks to earn at least $18m from this process - $8m from the non-refundable deposits (already in the bag) and about $10 million in licence fees.

Ricketts says the result of the bidding process will be known on Tuesday.

He says four companies have been offered to make their bids. Each company would bid an amount.

"We assess them and provided all terms and conditions have been met two licences will be given. That decision will be announced after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday."

He says no more than two licences will be given because it is limited by the availability of radio spectrum. Besides, he says there is not enough business to go around.

The four companies are Caribbean-based Digicel Pacific, Telecom Pacific Ltd (a joint venture between WR Carpenters South Pacific Ltd and Elandia (Intl), local internet service provider Unwired Fiji, and Pacific Spectrum Holdings Ltd (whose directors include Siddarth Nandan and Karen Simpson of Nadi).

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