This site has repeatedly pointed out that FINTEL’s dominance over the telecommunications market in Fiji is perhaps the key stumbling block for progress in the industry. Last week saw the highlighting of yet another conflict and its eventual resolution. While stakeholders have to be commended for arriving at quick resolution, we have to wonder whether these small incidents are part of a larger anti-competitive stance being taken by FINTEL. Pricing, innovation, and the offering of new services are all being held back because of FINTEL’s dominance. This will remain unchanged until there is investment in a secondary fibre cable or satellite alternative.
From the Fiji Times, we learn that FINTEL blocked international calling services offered by TFL to 19 countries, including 10 in the S. Pacific region:
“Although customers are able to gain international access through TFL’s 052 and 021 service, not all countries are accessible. We are currently working on providing access to the rest of these countries,” a TFL statement said.
In a Fiji Broadcasting Corporation report, FINTEL makes it clear that the 31 cents a minute cost outlined in a 2007 Commerce Commission decision is unviable. FINTEL has to bear the losses of carrying those calls for some time due to high termination charges imposed by countries where their rates are charged in US dollars. For the Solomon Islands alone, FINTEL has to pay US 40 cents per minute, for Tonga and other Pacific destinations FINTEL has to pay US 30 cents per minute.
And finally from Radio New Zealand, word of attempts to find immediate resolution to the dispute. Stay tuned.