Cingular Wireless, the US telecom giant shortlisted to take
part in todays spectrum auction, may not be part of
the bidding process, sources said earlier this week.
AT&T Wireless, which had expressed interest in the process
five years ago, was acquired by Cingular, the US telecom
giant, recently. Cingular was one of the five companies
shortlisted by the Telecommunications Authority in December.
After many months of delays, the auction for two cellular
licences is scheduled to take place today using the Internet
to receive the competitive bids.
The other companies were T&Ts Laqtel, Irelands
Digicel, US-based NatTel and Telkom Caribe.
Mike Singh, the man behind the Telkom Caribe told the Business
Guardian in an e-mail on Tuesday that Cingular was
in the process of identifying an appropriate buyer for its
Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless for US$41 billion thereby
creating the largest cell phone company in the US with 46
Singh said the folks at Cingular were keen
to exit the Caribbean as the company had bigger
fishes to fry.
He said Cingular Wireless was keen to exit the Caribbean
because its recent acquisition of AT&T Wireless was
a major capital expenditure and it was now faced with the
daunting task of improving customer service perception and
quality on the AT&T Wireless (Blue) side of their business,
which was rated the worst in the industry.
Cingular is one of five companies the Telecommunications
Authority of T&T (TATT) has prequalified to participate
in the countrys mobile spectrum auction.
The company is a joint venture between San Antonio-based
(SBC) Communications which owns 60 per cent and Atlanta-based
BellSouth which owns the remaining 40 per cent.
Singh also pointed out that Cingular was in the midst of
a US$3 billion network upgrade and had awarded the bulk
of its upgrade to Ericsson, German company Siemens and US-based
He explained that SBC dispensed its assets in India and
Israel while Bell South sold its overseas assets in Central
America to contribute to AT&Ts Wireless acquisition
the scenario, it is highly improbable that Cingular will
want to focus on a small, disconnected market as the Caribbean
where the return on investment is minuscule compared to
the investment of time and resources to run the business,
exit strategy is definitely on the card for Cingular in
terms of the Caribbean but there do not seem to be too many
suitors at this point in time.
will surprise the hell out of the entire industry if the
(Cingular) did move ahead in acquiring a license in T&T
given the current strategic focus of the parent group which
includes paying down their debt, improving customer service,
completing the integration of AT&T Wireless, increasing
market share in the face of tough competition in the US
from the likes of Verizon, T-Mobile, Nextel/Sprint and completing
the costly UMTS upgrade to 3G, he said.
Singh said Digicel was now eyeing Cingulars Caribbean
assets but it could end up falling into the hands of Vodafone,
the worlds largest GSM provider.
Joseph Laquis, a consultant to local company Laqtel which
is also shortlisted said he was aware the company would
not be part of the bidding process but did not have any
A TSTT representative confirmed that he was aware that Cingular
was looking for a buyer for its Caribbean assets but chose
not to comment.
A month after Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless, it announced
that it would expand operations into eight Caribbean islands
next year. It said it would offer services in Curacao, St
Kitts, Anguilla, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Martin
and St Barts and indicated its intention to acquire
licences to operate in T&T and Turks and Caicos.