MCAIT - Issues Papers
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 18 October 2013 08:29
Class licence
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 23:39

Class licence

The Commission recently issued an Order (Telecommunications Commission (Class Licence) Administrative Order 2011 (TCSI Order No.01 of 2011, legal Notice No. 62) which brings into force a general telecommunication class licence as of 12th September 2011.

The final form of the class licence has been adopted after a public consultation earlier this year. The class licence provides a general entitlement for Solomon Islands individuals and registered companies to carry on business in Solomon Islands in the provision of any or all kinds of local and international telecommunications service.

The wide range of commercial telecommunications activity generally authorized by the class licence is nevertheless subject to the requirement of the Act for a business to pre-register with the Commission, and to re-register annually, as well as the Commission’s issue from time to time of standard licence conditions or special conditions.

A class licence does not entitle any person to use Solomon Island’s radio spectrum, and anyone who proposes to undertake a telecommunication activity which would use radio spectrum must first apply to the Commission for a separate radio spectrum licence.

The Commission has decided against including additional requirements in the class licence, but will instead undertake a consultation at a later date on provisions for standard licence conditions, which apply to all licensees, and special conditions which may apply to specific kinds of telecommunications services.

With the issue of the class licence, Solomon Telekom and Bemobile are the only two companies holding individual licences. Those licences continue in effect according to their terms.

For information about the class licence registration and re-registration process, please contact the TCSI office on phone (677) 23850 or see us at Suite 303 Hyundai Mall Level 3. 

Please click here to download a copy of the Class Licence Administrative Order 2011.


New Commissioner
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 17 June 2011 04:04

Appointment of New Commissioner

The Minister for Communications and Aviation, Hon. Andrew Hanaria announced the appointment of Mr Bernard Hill, as the next Telecommunications Commissioner.  Mr Hill will take up his appointment on 16 June. 

As the Telecommunications Commissioner, Mr Hill will be responsible for the liberalisation and regulation of the telecommunications sector and for the management of the Telecommunications Commission. 

Announcing Mr Hill’s appointment, the Minister said:

 “The telecommunications industry is important to the future economic growth and stability of the Solomon Islands.  The Telecommunications Commission has a challenging goal to ensure that Solomon Islanders have access to a wide array of affordable and high quality telecommunications services.  I am delighted that Mr Hill has accepted the challenge and I value the experience and expertise he will bring to the role."

Under the Telecommunications Act, the Minister must approve and make the appointment of the Telecommunications Commissioner based on a recommendation from the Evaluation Committee.  Chairman of the Evaluation Committee, Denton Rarawa, the Governor of the Central Bank, noted:

"We carried out a global search for a new Commissioner and also advertised the post locally.  Around ninety people were considered.  The Evaluation Commitee was unanimous in proposing Mr Hill for the role and we look forward to working alongside him in promoting the development of the telecommunications sector in this country.

The Minister also applauded the work of the outgoing Commissioner, Nicholas Williams: 

“Mr Williams was responsible for establishing the Telecommunications Commission and putting in place an effective and independent Commission.  He has overseen the introduction of liberalisation in the telecommunications market.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Williams for his valuable contribution to the Solomon Islands.” 

Mr Hill is currently the senior partner in Certari Consulting, a Hong Kong based consultancy.  He was formerly Head of Competition Affairs at Hong Kong’s Telecommunications Authority, until the end of 2009, and was responsible for telecommunications regulation, interconnection issues and consumer protection measures.  He has more than thirty years’ experience in economic regulation and competition law, is a former senior partner in one of New Zealand’s leading law firms and has worked in Government.

Mr Hill will be accompanied by his wife and son.

Withdrawal of Request for Applications for Third Mobile Licence
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 25 May 2011 21:49

Withdrawal of Request for Applications for a Third Mobile Licence

The TCSI has withdrawn the Request for Applications for a Mobile Telecommunications Services Licence published on 11 February 2011.

The Request for Applications had been suspended since 4 March 2011 following legal claims made by Solomon Telekom and bemobile, the two existing service providers.  In view of delays resulting from such litigation and the likelihood of further legal claims should any licence be awarded, the TCSI has concluded that it is very unlikely that any application for the licence will now be forthcoming, and under such circumstances it is appropriate to withdraw the Request for Applications.

The TCSI will continue to review the level of competition and investment in the telecommunications market in order to ensure that the public sector, the private sector and the Solomon Islands population will benefit from improvements to price, quality, variety and availability of modern telecommunications services. 

Consultation on bemobile's coverage obligation in a three player market
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 24 March 2011 21:59

Consultation on bemobile's coverage obligation in a three player market

The TCSI has issued a consultation on the future of bemobile's coverage obligation, in its licence, should a third mobile service provider be licensed.  The coverage obligation originally offered by bemobile in its applications for a second mobile licence in 2009.  In selecting the successful applicant for that licence, the Evaluation Committee placed great emphasis on the scale of the coverage offered lest, in a two player market, there would be insufficient incentive for the service providers to deploy their networks broadly across the country. 

The proposition in the consultation is that the introduction of a third mobile service provider would increase the competitive intensity of the market and thereby reduce the need to maintain the current coverage obligation on bemobile.  (Solomon Telekom has no coverage obligation in its licence.)  The current coverage obligation on bemobile requires it to provide to 81% of the population by 18 September 2011, though the TCSI has already indicated to bemobile that it will allow the company until 31 December 2011 to hit this target given that it is struggling to meet current coverage thresholds in its licence. 

If there is a reasonable expectation that the presence of competition will achieve regulatory goals, such as widespread network deployment, the TCSI is required by the Telecommunications Act to refrain from imposing and remove existing unnecessary regulation.  The consultation therefore proposes to reduce bemobile's coverage obligation from 81% to 65%, a target that is required to meet by 31 May 2011, if a third mobile service provider is licensed. 

Nicholas Williams, the Telecommunications Commissioner, explained "The consultation reflects the prospective change in the market should a third mobile licence be offered and awarded.  The proposition outlined - and open to comment - is that a new entrant will increase the competitive intensity of the market.  All service providers will have to compete aggresively on things such as price, quality, service diversity and coverage.  Given this, there is arguably a case for reducing the coverage obligation on bemobile as competition might be expected to drive out to the provinces in any case."

"We welcome responses on whether the initial proposition is correct - that a third player will increase competitive intensity in the market - and on the subsequent conclusion that it would be appropriate to reduce the bemobile coverage obligation.  The level of any reduction is also a matter on which comments are requested."

A copy of the consultation document is available here.  The consultation closes on 9 May. 

The TCSI has currently suspended the Request for Applications for a third licence pending comments which Solomon Telekom and bemobile wished to make on the matter.  If a decision is taken not to pursue the Request for Applications in light of those comments, the the consultation published today will necessary terminate and will be redundant. 

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

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