Pacific Archives


Cables connecting Pacific islands

Posted on April 2, 2014  /  0 Comments

How quickly things change. Few years back I was discussing slow connections from Vanuatu with the then regulator, Alan Horne. Now a few days prior to my first visit to Vanuatu, I find that the country is enjoying the benefits of fast Internet connectivity. I am making this post sitting in Fiji, one of the best connected Pacific islands. Whether the claims of fastest Internet speeds in the Pacific have any substance, we will see next week.
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.
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.
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.