As a former department manager at Solomon Telekom, and keen follower of telecommunications issues globally, I was interested to read Charles DeRoller's recent letter explaining possible causes for higher telecom prices in the Solomon Islands. While it is common for customers to complain about high prices, its rare for someone to try to explain them. Charles provided a fairly standard explanation but not all of his reasons sounded valid to me, his comparison with the price of tuna is possibly misleading, for example the cost difference between transporting fresh tuna vs canned tuna is a significant factor. I am sure the price he is quoting is for Sushi grade tuna not canned Skipjack, I doubt the canned variety is much more expensive at his location than it is in Honiara.
Telecommunications gear is not fresh seafood, if a project is planned well it can be shipped by sea at a much lower cost than seafood by air.
I think it is important to note that Charles DeRoller is Director International Sales and Marketing for REDCOM Laboratories, a design and manufacturing company specializing in digital telecommunications systems. REDCOM supplies Our Telekom with telephone exchange systems, which are used in the provinces, and has had a long and successful relationship with Telekom and other Pacific Island Countries telecommunications service providers.
From my perspective the introduction of competition into telecommunication in the Solomon's is not just about reduced call cost, it is about improvements in a variety of telecommunication services, and increased network coverage for the nation. Already the now very real threat of competition has seen Telekom improve their mobile services and ramp up their provincial rollout of new coverage. The new Telecommunications Commission will be responsible for seeing that competition results in the desired outcomes for the nation. The future work by the Telecommunications Commission and SIG to enable further liberalization of the market will produce some significant changes to how people use telecommunications in the Solomon Islands.
Telekom is a great Solomon Islands company, and it has many dedicated staff with the skills and experience to provide world class competitive telecommunications services, along with relationships with vendors like REDCOM who will assist them in doing that. While I may not agree with everything Charles's has written, I do know he is genuine in his affection for the Solomon Islands. I recall driving him on one of his amateur entomologist field trips, it was prior to RAMSI and the first time I had ever gone up to the top of Mt Austin, and down the other side. Funny now to think how I nearly missed out on that experience because of what we had become, trapped in Honiara by fear, but I was led out into the jungle by a fearless butterfly hunter.
Best regards to all at Telekom who continue to work with the motivation to bring telecommunications to all the nation, and the same to Charles.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Mark Flynn and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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