Papua New Guinea’s communications minister Sam Basil has reportedly rejected a retail service determination (RSD) recommendation made by the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), citing concerns that it could have a social and economic impact. According to the Post-Courier the NICTA’s proposal followed an extensive public inquiry – completed in July 2018 – which sought to determine whether mobile services supplied by Digicel should remain subject to an RSD. As per the watchdog’s determination, it had recommended that the minister use his executive powers to order Digicel to levy the same price for both on-net and off-net calls.
In confirming he would not follow such a recommendation, Basil was said to have advised the NICTA of a letter sent by Digicel, in which the cellco claimed that if the RSD was implemented, it would be forced to withdraw its popular ‘1Tok’ plans. As a result, the minister said that, while he had considered accepting the RSD, he was also mindful that given Digicel’s more than 90% mobile market share, any change to the plans it offers could have ‘notable’ consequences. ‘Many of these subscribers are from the rural, remote areas of Papua New Guinea who can ill-afford the costs of mobile telecommunication services which has been eased by 1Tok bundle … Removal of [the] 1Tok bundle has the potential of going against [the] O’Neill Government policy objective of accessible and affordable ICT services,’ the minister was cited as saying.