Residents of remote parts of the country are being asked to inform the Bainimarama Government of the state of their telecommunications services as part of a push to give everyone the same level of service.
The Bainimarama Government is encouraging telecommunications service providers to provide all Fijians with equal access to fixed or mobile telephones and the Internet under its Universal Services Areas Scheme.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Communications Ministry wanted to hear from members of the public and service providers about the standard of access in some of the country’s remotest regions.
They include isolated areas of Ba, Bua, Cakaudrove, the Lau group, Macuata, Nadroga/Navosa, Naitasiri, Namosi and Ra.
“We are asking them to get in touch with us so that we can relay this information to telecommunications service providers as part of our scheme to provide them with incentives to improve levels of service,” he said.
The Minister said the ultimate objective of the Bainimarama Government was to enable all Fijians – both domestic and business users – to gain equal and affordable access to basic telecommunications services irrespective of where they live in Fiji.
“The Universal Services Areas Scheme applies to those areas where there is either no service at the moment or service is poorer than in other parts of Fiji. It also applies where the cost of providing services is prohibitive on a reasonable commercial basis”.
“Licensed operators who are prepared to roll out services in these areas are entitled to subsidies from the Universal Service Fund if they can deliver an adequate standard,” he said.
The Minister added that the Scheme – announced last year – was an important plank in the Bainimarama Government’s plan to revolutionise telecommunications access for all Fijians.
“We’ve already established Telecentres around the country in certain schools so that students can access the internet during the day and whole communities can do so out of hours. The Bainimarama Government’s objective is to connect the unconnected, to empower Fijians irrespective of where they are and how poor they are,” the Minister added.