Wednesday, 16 March 2011 8:39 AM

Telecommunications Market Opens for Local Businesses

A new type of telecommunications license is to be introduced in Solomon Islands allowing local businesses into the industry for the first time.

The class licenses, as they are called, will be available by the end of April. The authorities hope the licenses will lead to big improvements in the availability of internet services, especially in the rural areas.

Telecommunications Commissioner, Nic Williams, hopes competition from companies that take up the new class licenses will drive prices down and increase the availability of services, particularly in the rural areas.

"We are consulting on a class license that fundamentally breaks open the telecoms market here in the Solomons because it allows anyone to come into the market and offer any type of telecom service," said Mr Williams.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to commit to building a large mobile network that requires many millions of US dollars to finance it. People can do a quite bespoke service where they have a satellite earth station and maybe one or two terrestrial links on the ground and start serving a local area - a village or a town, a tourist destination. So the capital requirement is just that much less."

David Leeming, a Honiara-based IT consultant who works with rural communities says the opportunities offered by the new class license is huge.

"It will make a big difference. What this does is it allows any small company that meet the criteria, to innovate in many different ways and meet the different niches in the market and I think it's really good because it will encourage an ecosystem of providers to emerge," said Mr Leeming.

Telecommunications Commissioner, Nic Williams, says that his office is working hard to launch this new phase of licensing to ensure that consumers get a better deal.

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