The day that we thought would never arrive for telecommunications in Fiji, is upon us.

The peope of Fiji should expect nothing less than dramatic changes. 

In a conversation with Fijilive, new Communications Minister Tom Ricketts has confirmed the finalization of the telecommunications deregulations agreement today.

From the Fijilive article:

Last week, lawyers for the telecom operators (Telecom Fiji, FINTEL, Vodafone) and government met at the Holiday Inn in Suva over three days to finalise documentations in preparation for the eventual signing of the Settlement Deed.
The Settlement Deed was negotiated at the Radisson Hotel at Denarau early November.

There is virtually no coverage of this issue in the Fishy Times and other dailies—disappointing considering the huge change this means for the country. However, Islands Business appears to have done the required research and went to the lengths of viewing the agreement documents. In light of the inability of the dailies to keep us informed, we really have to thank the Islands Business crew for doing their job.

This is a breakdown from the Islands Business article on what Vodafone, TFL, and FINTEL get for agreeing to the deregulation process:

Vodafone Fiji Ltd (51% TFL/49% Vodafone International Holdings BV):

It gets a 15-year “open” facilities based telecom license and continued spectrum access, both with no additional charges apart from current levies. Vodafone currently uses 15MHz of the 900 MHz spectrum and this arrangement expires on December 31 next year. Beginning January 1, 2010, Vodafone is allotted 13MHz of the 900MHz spectrum (paired) for the duration of its 15-year open license.

This spectrum is used to broadcast signal for mobile telephone operators using GSM 900 mobile standard.
It also gets 15MHz of the 3G/UMTS (paired) during its 15-year license. This frequency is used for new applications in mobile telephones technology, more commonly referred to as 3Gs.Vodafone has also been assured of continued access to microwave spectrum, which will also be available on a non-exclusive basis.

Telecom Fiji Ltd (100% ATH):

TFL gets a 15-year open license but which will not allow it to operate in the mobile telephone market for as long as it has “direct or indirect economic interests in Vodafone Fiji”. Unless it intends to provide mobile service to rural areas and this will be subject to decisions made by the licensing authority.

TFL’s license however will allow it direct international access but this will not be until after 18 months from the signing of the Agreement by all parties to formalise conditions in the Radisson Telecom Accord.

During this time, TFL is obliged, along with other existing and new service providers, to connect internationally through FINTEL.

To ensure fairness during this time, FINTEL will provide prices approved by the Commerce Commission.

Fiji International Telecommunications Ltd (51%Fiji government/49% Cable & Wireless plc):

gets a 15 year open license in return for the removal of its exclusivities. Its goodies are it can play in all markets, although for mobile telephony, it will be restricted to being an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) provider.The only MVNO in Fiji so far is Inkk Mobile, an Aussie outfit operating on Vodafone Fiji’s network.FINTEL will also be given the right to provide internet services to the public via an ISP license to be issued to FINTEL Internet Services Ltd, now already trading as Kidanet.