New mobile network welcomed
Information Communication Technology Minster Timothy Masiu is open to new mobile network operators in the country to encourage competition in the telecommunications industry.
Masiu said this when asked about the third mobile network to be rolled out by Digitec Communications Ltd.
He said that the National Information Communications Technology Authority (Nicta) had issued a licence to Digitec Communications Ltd two years ago and the service would be rolled out soon.
“The company was given a licence two years ago and they are coming in now,” Masiu said. “We are just waiting for them to come in and roll out their service."
“We need to bring in one or two more mobile network operators to make competition easier and also let people to choose which company they want to use for communication."
“Once they come in, it should be really good and healthy for business for the country’s telecommunications industry in the country.”
Masiu said they had not put any timeframe for them to start operating.
He said a lot of business activities had been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as manpower shortages and restrictions on movement in and out of the country, resulting in equipment not coming in.
“If it was normal and there was no Covid-19, they could have been here and launched their mobile services,” he said. “We don’t want to give them a timeframe and push them.”
Masiu said there was also another mobile network company; Dubai-based Awal telecommunications company, who had shown interest to operate in the country’s telecommunications industry.
He said they were issued a licence to operate a few years ago but had not rolled out its service.
“They have turned up at my office and have shown interest,” he said. “But it’s really how they come in and show their commitment."
“They are just sorting out issues with the licence that was given to them 10 years ago. They want to change their business name so it’s with the IPA (Investment Promotion Authority).
“But it’s important for us to see what kind of commitment they have and can really move the industry in the country.
“My interest is to see we reach the rural villages in the country. I want to see people in the rural areas having access to telecommunication services.”
Masiu urged local ICT companies to work together and form a local mobile network operator.