Cook Islands government finalising bill to encourage cheaper phone and internet services
The Cook Islands government is finalising a bill to encourage cheaper phone and internet services.
The Cook Islands Finance Minister says he hopes a bill aimed at driving down phone and internet prices will be finalised by the end of the year.
Mark Brown says once the bill is complete, it will be presented to parliament and if approved, the government will take the responsibility for issuing telecommunications licences away from the current monopoly, Telecom Cook Islands.
He told Beverley Tse the government's plan is to ensure the whole country has full access to mobile and internet services, cheaper prices and faster broadband.
MARK BROWN: I think what we're needing is the provision of services at more competitive prices. And the government is very keen on this. We've had numerous discussions with the current provider in regard to the provision of this new bill, which will essentially open up opportunities for telecommunications services in the Cook Islands.
BEVERLEY TSE: So what are some of the provisions in that bill?
MB: I think the first one is that the government basically takes responsibility for the licencing of telecommunications licences going out which currently are the responsibility of the telecom company, so it enshrines the monopoly behaviour. And I think the current telecommunications company, TCI, debates it. In discussions that we've had they're well aware that we are moving towards a more open telecommunications field in terms of competitiveness. And they've moved a long way towards anticipating that. So we've been seeing progressively decreasing prices in the cost of telecommunication services, in the cost of high-speed broadband. We've seen investment by TCI in the new O3b satellite provision of broadband, which should provide much higher speed broadband to the country. And we'll wait and see how that translates into better services and cheaper prices for the consumer. But the government is still taking steps to introduce legislation which basically will remove the monopoly and, furthermore, the government is also looking at investment in telecommunications infrastructure, such as under-sea submarine cables for the collections of trunk lines that provide high-speed broadband currently through to america and new zealand. So there's a number of options available now to the government. The first one on the agenda is the introduction of new legislation.
BT: And when that legislation comes in force and there is no longer that monopoly, can you actually guarantee that licences will be issued to other competitors?
MB: I think the thing that we're looking at again, as I said, is not so much that we're going to issue licences to any other competitors. It's whether prices will come down for consumers in a country which has a fairly small market compared to other destinations or other jurisdictions those are the far more important dynamics to us than issuing out licences to any Tom, Dick or Harry, which may have a disruptive influence over the pricing and over the provision of services into the country.
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