Ownership matters. That is why we take special precautions when the incumbent telecom operator is owned by the government. There is a tendency for the government to want to look after its creature, even if it means that the “playing field” is tilted against private competitors by the regulator. It’s been a long time since the government of Fiji “privatized” the government department that provided fixed telephony services. But the new owner was not a truly private entity, but the Pension Fund.
Fiji follows Papua New Guinea in assigning 4G frequencies. It appears the auction is going well. Notices posted by the Department of Communications yesterday showed that of the three telecommunications providers, only Vodafone filled their 30 MHz quota and had left the ongoing 4G spectrum auction leaving TFL and Digicel to bid for the remaining frequencies. Each company had a quota of 30 MHz. In total, there were 20 lots of spectrum to bid for with bids ranging from $131,500 to $504,700 by the close of the auctions yesterday.
On the second day of the training course organized by PiRRC in Apia, Samoa, I made a presentation on the available regulatory solutions to the problem of market power associated with submarine cable landing stations. The countries covered include Hong Kong SAR, India, Fiji and Mauritius. The slide set: Gateway pricing Apr 2013.
LIRNEasia has achieved a milestone in the Pacific Region by launching the office of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre (PIRRC) on 10 November 2011 in Suva, Fiji. Earlier this year, LIRNEasia won the contract to establish the PIRRC with initial funding from World Bank and relocated its Senior Policy Fellow M. Aslam Hayat to act as PIRRC’s founder director.   Permanent Secretary for Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation and Tourism Ms. Elizabeth Powell was the Chief Guest for officially opening of PIRRC.
The countries within the purview of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center are mostly micro states, 14 in all. Only the two largest states, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, have been included in the ITU’s IDI Index for 2010. The picture, for them, is bad. Fiji and PNG have both dropped four places, Fiji to 94th rank and PNG to 143rd. Both have increased their IDI scores, Fiji from 2.
LIRNEasia has won the contract to establish the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center, based at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. This assignment from the World Bank will see M. Aslam Hayat, Senior Policy Fellow, relocate to Suva (actually he should land in Suva today) to establish the center as its founder director. In line with the axiom that all problems are easy if we can solve the hardest ones, LIRNEasia has been interested in the problems of regulation in micro states. This is where capacity issues are most challenging.