The Bainimarama has renewed its commitment to provide every Fijian – irrespective of where they live – access to affordable mobile telephone and broadband services.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, told an international mobile conference in Spain that the Government’s aim was 100 per cent coverage across Fiji.
The Attorney-General has been attending the GSMA World Mobile Congress in Barcelona and gave a keynote address on the penetration of mobile technology in Small Island Developing States.
He said the Bainimarama Government had already extended mobile coverage – including 3G – to 95 per cent of Fiji. But it would continue to expand to areas that currently have poor coverage or no coverage at all through its Universal Access Program.
“The Fijian Government’s goal is 100 per cent coverage. So in order to accomplish this, Government will offer subsidies to the service providers under the Universal Access Program”, he said.
The Attorney General said the Government is now preparing for the allocation of 4G Spectrum, by way of auction, to enable high speed Internet access and premium data services. “Our focus is not just on the maximum bid but on the best arrangement that will expedite connectivity”, he said.
For the first time, this year’s GSMA Congress held a session on the unique challenges of providing mobile coverage faced by Small Island Developing States and remote communities. The AG said that Fiji has been recognised by the International Telecommunication Union as a leader in the delivery of ICT infrastructure and services in the Pacific.
The Attorney-General said that because of the relatively small scale of mobile markets in these countries, Small Island Developing States needed to be a lot more innovative in attracting investment and instilling confidence in the public and private sectors.
He said that by reaching 95 per cent mobile 3G coverage, Fiji had a competitive edge that made it attractive for international businesses to not only invest in the country but move their bases to Fiji. “It is an investment that is already producing an economic dividend”, he said.
The Attorney-General also said that telecommunications companies and other vendors needed to adhere to proper standards and not exploit small states.
“The persuasive skills, methods and positioning of these companies in many instances are questionable. They need not see smaller countries as frontier territories where anything goes. That is why the Bainimarama Government has unreservedly ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and established the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption”, the Attorney-General added.