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Since yesterday, a flurry of blog posts and emails  have been circulating claiming the government is interfering in the operations of the telecommunications companies. Bloggers have jumped on these unsubstantiated rumors and reprinted the original post, helping to give credibility to untrue claims.

In response Vodafone CEO, Aslam Khan, has been sending out emails following a press release to make it clear to journalists that there has been no government interference:

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The State of Hawaii is watching their son Barry Obama take the oath to be sworn into office this morning.  I arrived early to the conference lobby at 6:30 AM to check it out on big screen tv’s set up.  There are about 50 people gathered to watch on two television screens set up.

participants awake bright and early

participants awake bright and early

I’m listening to Obama give his speech now.  The next generation must lower it’s sights.  Well, as a participant at this conference on telecommunications in the Asia-Pacific region, I have to say that the world is moving pretty fast and technological evolution is no longer the domain of the United States.

“men and women obscure in their labor”… sounds like the writer of this blog 😉

“pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off” … I have to do this every time I feel like no one reads or cares

“Jews and Hindus… and nonbelievers”… funny how a shift in language can make America so much more inclusive.

Rev. Joseph Lowery: “tanks will be beaten into tractors”… AMEN!!!!!…”brown can stick around”… u listening Fiji????????

Conference participants watching the inauguration

Conference participants watching the inauguration

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.  

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