PIRRC


The Pacific Islands Telecom Association (PITA) and the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center (PiRRC) co-organized several sessions on policy and regulatory issues at the annual PITA convention held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, April 8-11. Here is the slideset I used in proposing that PiRRC and/or the region’s regulators establish an evidence base for their work on consumer protection. I did not have Pacific data, but used LIRNEasia research from South Asia. It was well received, with one multi-sector regulator asking for more information, which is collated together here. There was an interesting question from the floor, where a former developed-country regulator questioned the relevance of our approach, saying that with quality information now being available on the web, the old “buyer beware” principle had to be replaced by “seller beware.
I will make a presentation based on the 2012-14 principal research project at the PiRRC-PITA Policy and Regulatory Workshop in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 11 April 2014. We normally do not make presentations in the Pacific without using Pacific data, but in this one instance I am relying solely on S Asia results. I am hoping the region’s regulators will conduct a similar study for their region in the coming year. The slides.
Regulators make decisions. Their decisions can be challenged, and often are. Thus it is important that the decisions are supported by strong evidence. In many cases, the evidence requires information. Mostly the information lies with the operators.
I write this sitting in the office of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center. Thus the interest in Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). Going through the IDI rankings, I was sorry to see that only Fiji (rank 82); Tonga (rank 101) and Solomon Islands (rank 125) are included. Both Fiji and Solomon Islands have fallen back by one place, even though their scores have increased from 3.79 to 3.
It’s been a few weeks since this presentation, developed on the basis of work Tahani Iqbal did while she was at LIRNEasia. It had one piece missing, the importance of timing. This was pointed out by my colleague M. Aslam Hayat. If MNP is introduced when a new and hungry entrant comes into the market, it could make a difference.
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.
I am writing this post sitting in Apia, Samoa, in a room packed with representatives from policymakers and regulators from 13 Pacific Island Countries (PICs), ranging from the Cook Islands to Vanuatu. I have been engaging with ICT policymakers and regulators in the PICs since 2006 and have never seen this level of enthusiasm and engagement. The subjects covered in this two-day training course were decided on by the participants. My first assignment is to discuss ITU and PiRRC indicators. The Pacific is something of a “black hole” in terms of sector indicators.
Among the PiRRC contributions to the Pacific Broadband Forum just concluded in Nadi, Fiji, was a panel discussion on regulatory independence. In addition to the practicing regulators of Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu, they invited some observers to participate. Preparing for the panel, I looked through some old slidesets and came up with this structure. Did not use the slidesets, but the structure was useful. What surprised me was how easily I switched from the role of disinterested scholar to former regulator.
PiRRC Research Assistant Shivanjini Anamika made an excellent presentation on intra-Pacific international call prices and roaming prices at the 5th Policy and Regulation Forum for the Pacific in Nadi, Fiji. The prices were high in general, but relatively lower prices were offered in the countries that had introduced competition. The presentation is here. This makes a direct contribution to the APT’s interest in lowering roaming rates, as signified in its Bali Action Plan of 2009 and several workshops held since.
The Pacific is a tough environment for ICTs. Small populations scattered across thousands of islands over one third of the earth’s surface. More or less the opposite of South Asia. But distance does not make the need for broadband less. One requires more access when one is far away.
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 office of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre (PIRRC) was officially opened for business on 10 November 2011 on the campus of the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva by Ms. Elizabeth Powell, Permanent Secretary for Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation and Tourism, Government of 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. The distinguished guests included Regulators and representatives of Pacific Island Countries, Representatives of the World Bank, the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association, the International Telecommunications Union, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Japan International Co-operation Agency as well as the Vice Chancellor and representatives of USP.