Solomon Islands will benefit from a multi-million dollar telecommunications technical assistance project, aimed at assisting the newly established telecommunications commission, over a period of five years.

The project has been given approval yesterday by the World Bank, AusAid and the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility.

A statement announcing the approval says the project is a "milestone development for telecommunications in the country."

It says strong competition is needed if Solomon Islands are to benefit from low prices for telecommunication services.

The statement says Solomon Islands is trailing behind the rest of the Pacific in telecommunications coverage.

The telecommunication technical assistance project will address these problems through providing legal, regulatory and technical expertise to the independent telecommunications commission.

It will also help government to design a program to promote the spread of telecommunication to rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Communications and Aviation Varian Lonamei has thanked all the major donors of the project.

He says efficient, reliable and affordable communications is a key to promoting economic and social development in Solomon Islands.

Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams says the funding should enable the commission to meet its mandate and ensure competition is fostered.

He says whilst changes cannot come overnight, the speed of change can be startling if competition is allowed to run its course.