Cook Islands government is looking at endorsing the Telecommunications Market Competition Policy 2019 in a bid to open up the market to competition and regulating service providers in an efficient and effective manner.
Fiji-based Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited, which bought the controlling share of Bluesky earlier this year says the draft policy articulates the government's intention to undertake legislative and regulatory reforms to liberalise the telecommunications market sometime in the near future.
In a statement to the South Pacific Stock Exchange, the company says while the impact of liberalisation would result in a reduction in the market share, they are confident Bluesky will maintain its position as the market leader in the Cook Islands.
The draft policy aims to further the achievement of the government’s information and communication technology vision by creating a policy and legal framework under which service providers will have the opportunity to enter, invest in and competitively supply telecommunications services in the country.
The primary objective of this policy is to enable the emergence and development of competition among suppliers of telecommunications services, in the interests of promoting consumer welfare, creating opportunities for investment; and ensuring high quality, sustainable and reliable telecommunications infrastructure.
The government proposes to give effect to the new regulatory framework through two Bills, to be introduced to Parliament this year. They are the Competition and Regulatory Authority Bill 2019 and the Telecommunications Bill 2019.
The Competition and Regulatory Authority Bill 2019 will set out the form, function and general powers of the telecommunications industry regulator.
The proposal, as endorsed in principle by Cabinet in August last year, is to extend the role of the telecommunications regulator to include the two additional sectors, following its establishment.
One of the key elements of the Telecommunications Market Competition Policy is a Universal Service Access commitment which will ensure affordable and quality telecommunications and internet service to all Cook Islanders.
Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited completed the purchase of the controlling interest shares in the Bluesky group of companies from Amper SA (Madrid, Spain) in February this year. The final payment to Amper SA was $66.7 million.
The Bluesky transaction involved acquisition of Amper's controlling interests of key telecommunication operators and submarine cables in the telecommunications industry in the South Pacific, namely in the US territory of American Samoa, Samoa, and the Cook Islands.