23 May 2005

Huge hike in telephone call costs in Fiji

1:17 pm on 23 May 2005

Fiji's business community is in shock following revelations at the weekend that their telecommunications costs will rise many times over from June the 1st.

The Fiji Times reports that telephone call costs will increase by an average of 350 percent while line rental costs will go up more than 700 percent.

Businesses will be required to pay for each minute of telephone use during peak times and for each five-minutes at other times.

Telecom Fiji claims the timed calls are necessary to prevent its network from being overloaded.

The Lautoka Chamber of Commerce has accused Telecom Fiji of slugging businesses with huge increases to recoup of drop in international and regional calls.

The Fiji Hotel Association has also attacked the charges saying resorts and hotels are some of Telecom Fiji's biggest customers and need to provide instant communications to their guests.

It president, Dixon Seeto, says many businesses keep several lines as back-ups because of constant disruptions to their services.

But the managing director of Telecom Fiji, Joe Mar, has dismissed criticism of the new line charges saying some companies throw that amount into just one business lunch.

Last month, the Commerce Commission said that most rates would go down from June 1st but line rentals would increase.