Reforms to Kiribati's telecom market include privatisation and the start of competition
Telecom services are unavailable in much of Kiribati and, where they are available, they are expensive by global standards, as well as by comparison with other countries in the region. Reasons for this include the absence of competition, pricey international satellite bandwidth, and the high costs of maintaining services on remote and sparsely populated islands.
State-owned Telecommunication Services Kiribati Limited (TSKL) is the only telecom operator. It provides fixed line and mobile services on the islands of Tarawa and Kiritimati (Christmas Island). Some of the Gilbert Islands around Tarawa receive mobile services, being connected to Tarawa through microwave links. The other outlying islands are served by radiotelephones.
The new Communications Act of 2012 contemplates far-ranging reforms, including the privatisation and liberalisation of Kiribati's telecom sector. As a result, the government has announced its intention to sell TSKL, and has started a public auction process for the sale. The Act also envisages the introduction of number portability, as a tool to encourage competition and attract new market entrants.
The sale of TSKL will follow an open process that meets criteria for transparency approved by the World Bank and that is used in sales of government-owned telecommunications companies around the world. Only pre-qualified parties may participate in the public tender process, which probably be held in the second half of 2014. Companies advising the Government of Kiribati on the sale of TSKL include Nathan Associates, Cameron LLP, and SINTRA Consulting.
In accordance with the Act of 2012, the regulator has set out to establish a transparent, simple process for licence applications, as well as low licence fees. A licensee who provides public communications services in the Outer Islands may also be eligible for a subsidy.
The first LTE network in the Pacific islands has been launched in Kiribati's two main islands and is to be expanded to the other islands. The Telecommunications Authority of Kiribati (TAK) has been replaced with the Communications Commission of Kiribati (CCK) as regulatory authority in charge of telecommunications. Fixed broadband in Kiribati is available via ADSL and WiMAX, but attracts few subscribers due to the poor availability and high cost of the service.
Kiribati's fixed-line, broadband, and mobile statistics 2011 - 2013
Sector | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 Fixed-lines in service Total subscribers | 8,500 | 9,000 | 9,000 Broadband Total subscribers | 900 | 1,000 | 1,300 Mobile telephony subscribers Total subscribers (million) | 13,800 | 16,000 | 17,000 (Source: BuddeComm based on industry data) Kiribati's telecom market has significant long-term potential. The report covers trends and developments in the fixed-line, mobile, internet, and broadband markets.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments; Facts, figures, and statistics; Government policies and regulatory issues; Infrastructure developments; Internet and broadband market (ADSL, WiMAX); Mobile market (including 3G and 4G).