For 14 long years, Fiji has suffered under a telecommunications arrangement that granted exclusive licenses to operators and prevented the entry of new companies to challenge these monopoly agreements. As a result, Fiji has had to endure terrible service, non-existent customer support, prohibitive pricing, and a host of other issues that one would expect when monopolies rule the day.
No longer. With the entry of Digicel into the mobile market in Fiji today, there will be real competition in the mobile market. Benefits to the consumer will be immediate. Already, Vodafone has started slashing rates to compete and in unprecendented moves, has even responded to widespread customer complaints about SMS promotions. Offering competitive pricing, excellent customer support, and the genuine motivation to shake up the market, it will not take long for Digicel to make a serious dent into Vodafone’s business.
Digicel stores in Suva open at 8 AM and the company is putting on a free concert at Albert Park, where a crowd of 60,000 is expected. The show will feature Sean Kingston, NZ-based Katchafire, and several local artists who get the thrill of playing for the largest crowd ever to gather in Fiji (for a non-religious event). The people of Fiji are not used to being shown any sign of appreciation from the companies they deal with. For a company to thank them with a free concert, before they have even started operations is a clear sign of great things to come.There are areas of concern. While the mobile sector has been opened up to competition, the internet gateway/backhaul function under the control of FINTEL will not be challenged anytime soon. This is an issue that has been dealt with extensively on this blog.
Change in internet will be more gradual and even there, Digicel will be a key mover. As it signs up more people to its data services, expect Digicel to show more interest in investing in internet backhaul capacity. It is only at this point that we can really expect internet service, quality, and pricing to show any movement in Fiji.
Today is a step in that direction.