We'll have to wait

Two more months and then we'll know what the beast looks like

Until the announcement on July 17th of the 2nd round of telecom sector liberalisation, we are like the people in this picture, only able to  guess at the parts of the elephant. We have already seen what competition in mobile means, and on that day, we will be given the road map for how Internet will advance in Fiji.

So, as we attempt to piece together what the elephant looks like, let’s take a look at what Dionisia has for us over at FijiLive:

The deregulation of international access, scheduled for July 17 this year, is phase two of the process. It will mean that any domestic reseller of telecommunication services may directly source its international bandwidth needs without going through FINTEL, as was previously the case.

Her article was very informative and helps us get a better understanding of how FINTEL is positioning itself with regard to future competition and government regulation.  By getting out ahead of government calls for liberalisation of the international gateway they hope to avoid more serious measures that government might push.

Can a leopard change its spots?

If regulators do not put a strong safety net in place, FINTEL will again make a meal of Internet consumers in FijiDoes this really mean anyone who wants to offer Internet service can purchase access to the international gateway by not having to deal with FINTEL? So long as there are guarantees that FINTEL will charge everyone the same price for access and act in a non-discriminatory manner toward network traffic.Can a leopard change its spots? The news is very promising. The change in rhetoric has been noted, but we can only be wary. We can only hope that those in negotiating power for the people are on knowledgeable of developments affecting regulation of telecom infrastructure in places like the UK and New Zealand (and now proposed in Australia).

What FINTEL understands is that there is a massive shift in attitutude on regulation of Internet infrastructure. Measures aimed at promoting facilities-based competition no longer hold sway. The new vogue is moving toward more interventionist policies, as governments now view broadband Internet access as critical national investments.

Dionisia’s article also had an interesting quote, which gives you the sense that they understand the larger context:

“The ultimate goal for the government is to make sure that we have a society that is well informed, knowledgeable and has access to information. How do you do that? Well you need internet penetration not just in urban areas but right out to the rural.  And our key strength, looking at the domestic market, is that we can work together with other key drivers to push bandwidth out there,” FINTEL chief executive officer Sakaraia Tuilakepa told Fijilive.

Let’s hope this tone is genuine and reflects only the beginning of positive news on the front of improving Internet access in Fiji. If the sentiment is not genuine and regulators are unable to put in place a strong vision, then Internet consumers in Fiji just might get eaten, again.