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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.

 

 
Issue of RFA for third mobile licence
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 21:36

Release of Request for Applications for a Third Mobile Licence in Solomon Islands

11 February 2011: The Telecommunications Commission of the Solomon Islands (TCSI) is today publishing a Request for Applications for a third mobile telecommunications operator and is inviting all prospective service providers to register their interest.  The winning applicant will receive a 15 year licence, permitting it to provide mobile services and use specified frequencies in the following radio frequency bands: 900, 1800 and 2100MHz (commonly used for GSM and 3G). 

The Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams, said: "Currently, under the Telecommunications Act, anyone can submit an application for a mobile licence.  Today we are providing a framework within which applications can be made and considered at the same time.  We encourage potential applicants for the licence to study the opportunity presented.  We also advise them to register their interest with the TCSI so we can ensure that they receive all relevant information, including responses to questions asked during the tender process."

A comparative selection process or 'beauty contest' will be used to determine the successful applicant.  The TCSI will consider the following criteria when evaluating applications:

  • telecommunicatons sector experience;
  • the size of any upfront one-off fee applicants are prepared to pay for the licence; the size of any service coverage undertaking and associated demand guarantee they are prepared to provide;
  • financial capability to invest in the Solomon Islands telecom sector; and
  • their business plans. 

Commenting on the decision to use a 'beauty contest' procedure, Mr Williams said: "We previously considered using an auction arrangement for selecting the winning applicant.  However, it is not clear that any applicants will offer an upfront one-off fee for the licence.  They didn't do so in the previous licensing round.  This makes an auction unsuitable.  We also considered setting a fixed coverage obligation and effectively carrying out an auction of the amount of the financial guarantee that supports it, but we do not wish to prejudge such an obligation.  We have therefore decided to allow applicants to make coverage commitments of their own choosing based on their assessment of the market.  We believe the credibility of these commitments should be weighed with their financial guarantee, financial capability and business planning, as well as applicants' experience in other competitive telecom markets.  Hence we have adopted a 'beauty contest' process that is basically the same as that used when awarding the second mobile licence."

If no suitable applicant comes forward, the TCSI will not award the licence.  The TCSI does not intend to make available further mobile spectrum in the 900, 1800 and 2100MHz bands for a 12 month after the closing date for the Request for Applications. 

Copies of the Request for Applications can be downloaded here.  Prospective applicants can register their interest by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Applications for the licence are required by 5pm Honiara time on Friday 25 March and a decision on any licence awared is expected by 8 April. 

 

 
Tender for a 15 Year Licence for a Third Mobile Telecommunications Operator in Solomon Islands
Written by TCSI   
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 03:07

Tender for a 15 Year Licence for a Third Mobile Telecommunications Operator in Solomon Islands

As part of its efforts to develop the Solomon Islands telecommunications market, the Telecommunications Commission of Solomon Islands (TCSI) today announces its intention to conduct a competitive selection process for the entry into the market of a third telecommunications operator. In accordance with the Telecommunications Act 2009, the TCSI intends to issue a Request for Applications (RFA) detailing the selection process and licence terms by the first week of January.

It intends this process to conclude with an auction and licensing in the early part of 2011, if possible with applications before the end of February and licence issuance in March. The winning applicant will receive a 15 year radio frequency licence, permitting it to use specified frequencies in the Mobile Service bands: 900, 1800 and 2100MHz (commonly used for GSM and 3G). It will also receive a services licence, permitting it to provide mobile services in the Solomon Islands. The licences will be “technology neutral,” allowing the licensee to use any technology of its choice to provide mobile services consistent with international practices and regulations.

The TCSI currently:

  • intends the selection to be made in an auction process. The financial amount to be bid will not be a licence fee but rather the amount of the performance bond that the new licensee will provide as a guarantee for its network coverage obligations;
  • expects that the frequency licence will require the licensee to cover a specified percentage of the country’s population within a specified period after issuance of the licence. It is considering setting the population percentage at 35% and the period at twelve months;
  • does not intend to require any upfront licence fee for the new licence. Annual licence fees for the next several years in Solomon Islands will be 2% of gross revenues. No universal service fee may be introduced until September 2015 at the earliest. Interested parties should refer to the Telecommunications Act 2009 for details of all such fees;
  • expects to specify a minimum amount of information that applicants must provide to enable the TCSI to verify that they have the necessary experience to enter the Solomon Islands market;
  • intends the application process to allow for questions and answers as well as comments from potential applicants on the process and terms and conditions of the proposed licence. The TCSI may amend the RFA and proposed licences if necessary in light of such comments.

 

 
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