Government announces call for would-be mobile operators

26 Jul 2007

The interim government of Fiji will tomorrow issue an invitation to interested parties wishing to operate mobile phone services in the country, writes online news portal FijiLive. The Communications Minister Taito Waradi says he plans to adopt a managed approach to the opening up of the telecoms market, but already his announcement has thrown down a challenge to monopoly operator Vodafone which is looking to prevent market entrants. ‘This is going to send out a clear signal (to all monopoly operators) that I am not going to wait for them,’ Waradi said. ‘They can put all bottlenecks, entitlements and whatever to try to slow things down. The delaying tactics, the exclusivity issue we have been discussing for years,’ he added.

Vodafone Fiji is challenging the government’s decision to issue a provisional licence to Caribbean mobile operator Digicel Group, but the minister is adamant that competition will come before the end of 2007. The current incumbent cellphone operator has twice seen its case thrown out of court and is again appealing the decision. The new court hearing is scheduled to take place on 17 December, although Digicel has already begun work on rolling out its network in anticipation of receiving the go ahead from the authorities.