Before we can get people to fill up these chairs, something has to be done about the internetBefore we can get people to fill up these chairs, something has to be done about the internet

Web 2.0 services like YouTube and social networking dominate the discussion when talking about the exponential nature of growth for bandwidth demand. But in Fiji, plans to help establish Business Process Offshoring (BPO) ventures might end up being the quiet driver of real change concerning the quality and pricing of internet service.

You can read here about South African firm Mind Pearl’s recent decision to launch a BPO venture in Fiji. They join a small contingent of companies including ANZ Bank and ACS who now run BPO services out of Fiji.

We are stuck asking the chick or the egg question. To see the industry get off the ground, we need better internet, but to get better internet, we need there to be demand for more quality service from large business customers.

Real competition in internet rates in Fiji will only take place when someone is willing to invest in additional backhaul capability (see previous posts for discussion on satellite and cable options). Laying an additional submarine cable is a very expensive proposition. It will only happen when an investor deems that there is enough demand and/or growth in traffic to make the additional cable profitable

If Fiji is to be a country where 5,000 – 10,000 jobs are to be created in call center operations, then a key obstacle remains the high cost and poor quality of internet service.

Speak to Tomasi Vakatora of ATH at a PTC ’09 reception and he seemed to understand how critical the developing of a BPO sector is to Fiji’s economic future. Without expanded internet infrastructure Fiji will fail to catch the eye of interested investors. The bottom line is that our high telecommunications cost make us very uncompetitive in what is truly a globalized industry.