Additional InformationExecutive summary
Since the change in government in 2006 Fiji has been through the global financial crisis, its infrastructure was damaged by floods in 2009, it has seen reduced tourist numbers and reduced exports, its economy contracted, and then the Fijian dollar was devaluated by 20% in April 2010. But despite all of this, GDP is now expected to increase to 2.1% in 2010. Tourism is increasing with record arrivals in some months in 2010/11, with the government aiming to increase arrivals to 6 million by 2020.
The government has an expansion agenda which, by 2020 includes liberalisation of institutions, communications services increasing by 100% and a renewable energy target of 90%. To kick start the progress, $325 million was announced for capital expenditure in 2010. Fiji is keen to expand and further develop the telecoms market, of which many sectors have been languishing due to high costs. Broadband participation is now set to increase with a 0% tax on dongles, while other industries using ICT are also winners with reductions in tax for optical media and AV incentives to attract foreign film makers.
Relative to many other South Pacific islands Fiji has a fairly reliable and efficient telecom system with access to the Southern Cross submarine cable linking New Zealand, Australia and the US. Fijis telecom industry is based around three major monopolies which were protected through exclusivity licences until regulatory changes occurred in 2007 with passing of the governments Telecommunications Bill, which deregulated elements of the countrys telecom sector.
Prior to the passing of the bill Telecom Fiji had an exclusive licence to provide domestic fixed-line voice and data services; Vodafone Fiji was the sole provider of mobile services; and Fintel had a monopoly on international voice and data services. As a result, Fijians were subjected to relatively poor service, high prices and minimal customer care. However Vodafone lost its monopoly status when Digicel Fiji launched its network in 2008.
Internet penetration remains relatively low and rural penetration is poor with a high cost. This is set to change if price cuts announced by ComCom are passed onto consumers. Price cuts on Fintels Internet bandwidth take effect from mid-2010 through to mid-2011. The price cuts in total will be over 61% over the two-year period.
Due to a degree of parliamentary inactivity while the country is temporarily under military rule further reform to telecommunications regulation is unlikely in the short term. Further foreign investment in the domestic market is also likely to be reviewed by multinational firms.
In 2009 the President implemented a set of Public Emergency Regulations that supposedly limit freedom of speech, expanded the power of law enforcement and curbed media freedom. The Permanent Secretary for Information was given the power to control broadcasts and publications.
In a further move to limit control over media power, new media restrictions came into force in mid-2010. The law states that all company directors and a minimum 90% of shareholders to be Fijian citizens. The restriction affects the newspaper Fiji Times, currently owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch. As such, the paper appears to have two choices - either closing down or transferring ownership to a local company before late 2010 - only time will provide the direction that the company takes.
Estimated Internet penetration in selected South Pacific countries - 2010
CountryPopulation (thousands)Internet penetration
Papua New Guinea6,1002%
(Source: BuddeComm, various industry sources)
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