The fate and future of Our Telekom's 15-year monopoly hangs in the balance as the company and the Solomon Islands Government prepare to review the terms of the license in two weeks times.

Under the terms of the license the parties are scheduled to review the terms of the 15-year license, including Telekom's 15-year monopoly status, on the 17th of this month, five years after the agreement was signed.

The outcome of the review is also expected to determine the future direction of the telecommunications industry in Solomon Islands in light of the Government's stated policy position to liberalize the industry in the country.

The Special Secretary to the Prime Minister (SSPM) John Keniapisia told the National Express that the Government had originally intended to push to liberalize the industry introducing the necessary legislation during the up coming Parliament meeting.

However, Mr. Keniapisia said that the Government had decided instead to address the issue through negotiations with Our Telekom.

"The Government does not want to send the wrong signal to investors by being seen as bulldozing its way by legislation and wants instead to use the review clause in the license to negotiate with Telekom in good faith the monopoly clause in the 15-year license," Mr. Keniapisia said.

The SSPM added that as a result of the strategy which the government is now taking, it has decided not to proceed with its earlier intention to introduce a new law to remove that monopoly status at the up coming meeting of Parliament.

However the Government is "most likely to revert to the option of using legislation if the up coming review talks fail to resolve Our Telekom's 15-year old monopoly status under its current license," according to SSPM Keniapisia.

Once the monopoly clause in Telekom's 15-year license is removed, this would liberalize the telecommunications industry in the country thus opening up the market for competition.

The Pacific subsidiary of the world renowned Irish based international mobile company Digicel is sitting on the wings waiting for an opportunity to come in to Solomon Islands once the industry is liberalized. It is widely expected that an entry to the Solomon Islands market by Digicel would drastically reduce costs to the consumer in Solomon Islands.

The company has already been in operation in the main countries of the region; PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.

Source: National Express