High Court rejects bemobile's claims
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 07 March 2011 23:12

High Court rejects bemobile's claims

The High Court of the Solomon Islands yesterday refused to grant bemobile any injunctive relief in two cases it has brought against the TCSI.  In summarising his view, Justice Chetwynd, presiding, said he had "come within a hair's breadth" of striking down not only applications for injunctive relief but the main claims of the case themselves.  He has however granted bemobile 21 days to file amended claims with the warning that if they resemble the current claims they are very likely to fail. 

In the main claims, bemobile is seeking to have the court rule that the coverage obligation in its Telecommunications licence are unlawful or have been improperly exercised by the TCSI, nothwithstanding the fact that bemobile had expressly agreed to the provisions of the obligations in December 2009. 

Speaking today, the Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams, said "In addressing bemobile's claim for injunctive relief, the court took the opportunity to express its view that, on the arguments it has seen, it believes there is no merit in bemobile's claims that the coverage obligation and actions of the TCSI in enforcing it are unlawful.  bemobile has expressly accepted the coverage obligation and amendments made to it.  It has also, sadly, failed to meet on time any of the three coverage obligation thresholds it has been required to meet so far.  I hope bemobile now focuses its time and energies in satisfying its coverage obligations and that we can avoid wasting more time before the courts."

Separately, bemobile and Solomon Telekom have brought cases before the court to argue that the TCSI should not offer a third mobile licence without first consulting with them.  The TCSI rejects that there is any legal requirement to consult first and notes that bemobile and Solomon Telekom have had ample opportunity to make representations to it as the possibility of a third licensee entering the market after 1 April 2011 was envisaged when the Telecommunications Act was passed in September 2009. 

However, rather than allow the application process for the third licence - which was launched on 11 February 2011 - to become bogged down in the court and in order to meet the desires of the two existing operators to make their comments and thoughts known, the TCSI has agreed to allow time for consultation. 

"If either company has good arguments why no licence should be offered or what conditions should apply to the licensee, the TCSI wants to hear them and is bound to consider their representations carefully.  Consequently, I have suspended the request for applications for three weeks to give both companies time to make their representations.  I would ask both companies to provide their views to the TCSI expediously.  To help that process, the TCSI shall issue to them a consultation paper later today."

The TCSI plans to be in a position to anounce the results of the consultaton process by the first week of April. 

8 March 2011

Bemobile breaches its coverage obligations
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 28 February 2011 03:06

Bemobile breaches its coverage obligations in its Telecommunications Act licence

On 28 February 2011 the TCSI announced that BMobile (Solomon Islands) Limited ('bemobile') is in breach of its Telecommunications Act licence.  Specifically, bemobile has failed to satisfy section 10.1(c) of the licence because it is not providing a telecommunications service to 75% of the population by 1 February 2011 and has failed to rectify the situation by 14 February 2011 as required in its licence. 

Nicholas Williams, the Telecommunications Commissioner, explained that "bemobile failed to meet its frst coverage obligation to launch services on 18 June 2010.  It subsequently launched on 31 August 2010. bemobile then failed to meet its second coverage obligation of 50% on 18 September 2010.  After receiving an extension to this second coverage obligation, bemobile was required to provide service to 50% of the population by 30 November 2010.  The National Statistics Office (NSO) reviewed bemobile's coverage at that time and concluded that bemobile had reached 48.3%.  The TCSI gave bemobile the benefit of the doubt and treated their coverage as compliant.

bemobile has now confirmed to the TCSI and provided data showing that they have built no new sites since 1 December 2010.  In view of this, the TCSI has found that bemobile has failed to meet its third coverage threshold of 75% of the population that commenced on 1 February 2011, as well as during the 14 day rectification period that was provided for under the licence.

There has been some confusion in the media about whether bemobile might have reached 64% population coverage.  The NSO and the TCSI have both examined the matter and agree that the figure of 64% is erroneous."

In accordance with its bid for the second mobile licence, bemobile submitted a USD 10 million demand guarantee against its satisfaction of four phases of coverage obligations in its licence.  Each of the four phases is guaranteed by an amount of USD 2.5 million.  The TCSI has decided to exercise USD 1 million in connection with bemobile's failure to meet the third threshold.

The lawfullness of the coverage obligation and exercise of the demand guarantee is being challenged by bemobile before the courts.  The TCSI is defending the action.


Consultation on IPR
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 27 February 2011 22:45

Consultation on Intellectual Property Rights and Telecommunications

The TCSI has released a consultation paper seeking views on the effect of intellectual property rights on the telecommunications sector in the Solomon Islands.

Responses will assist the TCSI to make recommendations to the Minister of Communications and Aviation.  The consultation is a legislative requirement under the Telecommunications Act 2009.  Response are requested by 15 April 2011.

Click here for information. 

Consultation on the Solomon Islands National Radiofrequency Band Plan
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 23:14

Consultation on the Solomon Islands National Radiofrequency Band Plan

The Telecommunications Commission of the Solomon Islands published a consultation paper on the National Radiofrequency Band Plan for the Solomon Islands on 23 February 2011.

Developments in technology and significant growth in the use of telecommunications means that demand for access to radiofrequencies has grown substantially, world wide, over the last 25 years.  The National Radiofrequency Band Plan provides a structured mechanism to manage access to frequencies and settle any interference issues that may arise, not just in the Solomon Islands but with neighbouring countries.  It determines what services can be offered in specific frequency bands and sets a hierarchy to follow when judging interference cases. 

The Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams said, "The Band Plan is a rather arcane regulation but it is important.  It provides the framework for the use of valuable resources, radio frequencies.  While we do not expect to be inundated with comments, we would ask those radio frequencies to review the Band Plan as it affects their specific use."

Once completed, the Band Plan will set Solomon Islands radiofrequency use within a broader regional and ultimately, global spectrum management regime under the International Telecommunications Union, a UN affiliated organisation that focuses on Governmental discussions of telecommunications issues. 

Please click here for details.  Responses are requested by 23 March 2011. 


Release of consultation on licence conditions for provision of telecommunications services
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 17 February 2011 04:01

Release of consultation document on the licence conditions for the provison of telecommunications services in the Solomon Islands.

On 17 February the TCSI published a consultation on the licence conditions that will generally apply to the provision of telecommunications services in the Solomon Islands.  The conditions are set out in a draft Class Licence and would permit any person to provide any type of telecommunications service, though they would need to apply for a separate spectrum licence should they also require access to radio frequencies. 

The Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams said "The publication of the consultation is very important.  The Class Licence has the affect of implementing full scale market liberalisation.  It is important that we get the licence right, so we encourage all actual and prospective service providers to respond to the consultation." 

The Class Licence covers issues such as qualification criteria to provide telecommunications services, the provision of emergency services, key performance indicators and applicable fees.  The consultation also seeks initial views on whether current licensees should be able to offer services under the Class Licence. 

The TCSI is also seeking views on a related exemption order that would exempt persons who are providing telecommunications services for their own use or as a complement to their main business from the requirement to obtain an individual licence or register under the Class Licence.

"The exemption order is trying to capture those people, typically companies like banks, that run telecommunications networks for their own use and are not actually offering commercial telecommunications services.  But the exemption would also prospectively cover businesses who do sell telecommunications services but only as a complement to their main business.  The classic example is a hotel.  As there appears to be little practical need for them to operate under a Class Licence. we are proposing that they be exempted from having to do so but we welcome comments", said Mr Williams. 

For copies of the Consultation Paper, draft Class Licence and draft exemption order, please click here.


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