Sunday, August 5, 2007

ICT Policy and Mobile Competition

Before I start this discussion I would like to say that I fully support the idea of “Mobile Competition” in Papua New Guinea. There is so much potential in mobile communications especially the potential of “wireless broadband” in which mobile carriers could tap into so that no longer should I go to an internet café and discussion issues on scape but I can stay at home at do that also or even while drinking a martini on an imaginary boat that I possess.

Heni Goro gave a very interesting analysis (No such thing as open competition) in the Sunday Chronicles and Heni could not have done a better job as I was still trying to rearrange my thoughts. Please be mindful that the Grand Chief is a very patriotic person and will not be influenced by those outside of Papua New Guinea.

That being said, all competition including the mobile competition needs to take place within a solid policy framework which the Government as the protector of people must set in place. The ICT policy was set-up to protect the natural resource of the people of Papua New Guineans. So what is the so-called natural resource? The natural resource was the scarce AIRSPACE that Papua New Guinea owns.

International laws allows for AIRSPACE boundaries for every country including Papua New Guinea. The same can be said for Papua New Guinea’s sea boundaries which are covered under the International laws. The AIRSPACE and sea boundaries are the only natural scarce resources left where millions of kina can be generated with a solid policy framework for Papua New Guinea. We must be very careful on how our AIRSPACE is being used. Very soon Papua New Guinea will start to think about having its own satellite and move away from depending on Optus.

According to Sunday Chronicles commentary by Heni Goro, “The Net-co, Serv-Co model is the only option available – towards a monopolized regime structured to encourage competition”. I believe that was the message that the Grand Chief was giving out but people where too emotional to rationalize this. Papua New Guinea must control is natural resources and as such Common Carrier is a scarce resource.” It is the nerve center of whole telecommunication operation and only the State can have control over it, not outsiders……”

So where does it leave Digicel, GreenCom, and ServCo who are now access seekers under ICT policy that was passed? They can still operate in Papua New Guinea but it must be under the amended ICT policy which ICCC was instructed to issue to them in the NEC Decision 188/2007. I believe it is in the best interest of Digicel to stop these lawsuits and accept the NEC Decision 188/2007 as the Government is hell bent on protecting its scarce natural resource.

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