According to the Solomon Times, the Telecommunications Commission of the Solomon Islands (TCSI) has alleged that cellular operator Bemobile failed to provide telecommunications service to 75% of the population by 1 February 2011, as required by the terms of its licence. It is believed that the TCSI granted Bemobile a two-week reprieve within which to rectify the situation, but the cellco failed to take appropriate action, and will now be fined USD1 million by the regulator as a result. Bemobile, which launched on 18 June 2010, was obliged to achieve 50% population coverage by 18 September 2010, and 75% by 1 February 2011.
Telecommunications commissioner Nicholas Williams commented: ‘TCSI has found that Bemobile has failed to meet its third coverage threshold of 75% of the population that commenced on 1 February 2011, as well as during the 14 day rectification period that was provided for under the licence’. He confirmed that the National Statistics Office and the TCSI have examined Bemobile’s claims that it achieved 64% coverage, with both regulatory bodies concurring that the figure is incorrect. Williams says that Bemobile admitted that it has not actually built any additional cell sites since December 2010. Nevertheless, Bemobile intends to take legal action to dispute the coverage obligation and attempt to block the fine.