SUNBIZ

KEEPING A CHECK ON COMPETITION IN THE TELECOM INDUSTRY

The information age has well and truly established a foothold in Fiji. The launch of the Walesi OTT television app was the latest innovation introduced in Government’s bid to digi­talise
30 Jun 2018 10:00
KEEPING A CHECK ON COMPETITION IN THE TELECOM INDUSTRY
From left: Digicel Fiji chief executive officer Mike Greig, Telecom Fiji Limited Director Umarji Musa, Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, FINTEL chief executive officer George Samisoni and Acting Vodafone Fiji chief executive officer Ronald Prasad on June 26, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News

The information age has well and truly established a foothold in Fiji.

The launch of the Walesi OTT television app was the latest innovation introduced in Government’s bid to digi­talise Fiji.

Content and internet service providers have come together with Government in a – ’40-20-40’ – revenue-sharing agreement to create the simple and free-to-download app.

The app lets users watch live TV on their smart phones and was launched nearly two weeks after the unveiling of Govern­ment’s DigitalFIJI app.

It also comes as Fiji’s smart phone pene­tration reaches record levels, and demand for fast internet services increase with it.

A submarine Savusavu cable system that will be constructed between Fiji’s two main islands will further fuel this demand.

This rapid shift towards a tech-based society has sparked discussions about competition in Fiji’s telecommunications sector.

The country’s major retail telecommu­nications providers include Telecom Fiji Limited, FINTEL, Vodafone and Digicel.

Joel Abraham, the chief executive of­ficer of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC), says he is satisfied with the market con­ditions so far.

Mr Abraham says the degree of anti-competitive behaviour in the market is low to non-existent.

“Telecommunications are gener­ally very mindful of the provisions relating to respected trade prac­tices and they’ve invested in a legal team to study competition laws as well,” Mr Abraham said.

But Fiji’s competition agency has a dedicated team regularly review­ing competition issues in the sector to ensure consumer interests a pro­tected, he says.

Predatory pricing or selling of goods at low prices to kill compe­tition, price fixing and collusion among competitors are some exam­ple of anti-competitive behaviour.

“There’s always room for im­provement but I think it’s more about the telecos looking at their own strategy in terms of how they can be more innovative in provid­ing solutions to consumers,” Mr Abraham said.

“The FCCC has a special com­mittee looking at competition and compliance and it is headed by a private sector representative and one of the things we are discuss­ing is maybe reviewing of the rates that are there.”

The agency has also enlisted the help of the World Bank and the Ministry of Economy around ca­pacity building in telecommunica­tions, he said.

He has also expressed desire to work in close conjunction with in­dustry players to iron out any is­sues that may exist.

“We are looking at competition issues and to see whether Fiji is ready to accept and implement the advances in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector,” he said.

“There is a need for the industry to meet and discuss industry-wide issues such as access and afford­ability – those are two things that are very important.

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj



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