Minister reports 15 bids for mobile licence

29 Aug 2007

Fiji’s interim Commerce Minister, Taito Waradi, says that 15 companies including local and international firms, have applied for a licence to operate a mobile telephone network in Fiji. The minister’s announcement followed the closing of the deadline for submissions yesterday. The country’s Ministry director of communications Jale Curuki added that the nation could theoretically cater for up to nine mobile operators but conceded that the actual level would be ‘determined by the market.’

Meanwhile, Mr Waradi went on to point out that currently there were no mobile operators licensed in Fiji, with the only recognised companies being Telecom Fiji and FINTEL. ‘Both are paying about USD1.2 million each and Vodafone is riding on the back of Telecom Fiji’s licence,’ the minister said. ‘Vodafone Fiji itself does not have a licence,’ he said.

One of the international firms interested in entering the market is Digicel, which has pledged to invest USD206 million in Fiji if it is awarded a concession. Digicel sees the country as a potential regional hub and has been deploying infrastructure there for more than a year in anticipation of receiving a licence. In the medium-term it is looking to capture 60% of the market and hopes to employ about 250 people, up from the current figure of around 40.