Telecom Commission of Solomon Islands issues phone company US$1M fine

Thursday, March 3, 2011

PNG Mobile phone provider bemobile's logo

The Telecommunications Commission of the Solomon Islands (TCSI) have issued a fine to a Papua New Guinea (PNG) mobile phone provider, for failing to meet the deadlines set out in the terms of its license. bemobile, the second mobile network service provider in the Solomon Islands, was supposed to have covered 50% of the Solomons by September 2010 and 75% by February 1st 2011. Both targets passed with their requirements unfulfilled.

The National Statistics Office and the TCSI investigated claims by bemobile that it had covered 64% of the Islands, but found the claims were incorrect. As a result, the TCSI have now issued a fine of K2.6 million (US$1 million, £0.61 million, 0.72 million) to the company for breaking its operating license.

This is the second time bemobile failed to meet its contractual obligations, and the Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams, made it clear that they had fallen short of the target, despite being given time to sort the issue out.

Williams said, "TCSI has found that bemobile has failed to meet its third coverage threshold of 75% of the population that commenced on 1 February 2011, as well as during the 14-day rectification period that was provided for under the licence."

Commissioner Williams also stated he could have raised the fine to US$2.5M, but he hoped that bemobile would use the extra money to meet its September deadline.

In a statement to the Commission, bemobile admitted it had not built any new transmitter masts since the latter part of 2010.