Well I’m sure everyone’s going crazy wondering what Digicel will do now, well I just came back from an urgent Media Conference at Digicel’s office at lunch today and they are certainly not going anywhere.
The Media Conference was headed by CEO, Vanessa Slowey, Director Seamus Lynch and their lawyer. They started by introducing some facts about their setup, such as Digicel being committed to invest K1.2 billion in rolling out their network. They have already spent in excess of K480 million already. Digicel currently has 350 full time employees and 450 part time staff with 98% of total staff being PNG citizens. So in light of their investment and their firm belief that competition is the way forward for any economy in today’s world, Digicel are definitely here to stay.
Digicel has 2 licences, a mobile telecommunications licence from ICCC and a spectrum licence from PANGTEL. Digicel claim that proper procedures under the 2005 Telecommunications Act were not followed by PANGTEL in their attempt to revoke their spectrum licence. So last night after being served the letter from PANGTEL at 3pm their lawyers were already out at the courts seeking an injunction against the decision at 5pm. So in short Digicel is continuing as usual with business and they will not be stopping their service while this is fought out in the courts. Digicel’s lawyers are now looking over the PANGTEL decision.
Seamus Lynch, Digicel Director added that ‘…I met with the Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare in early March 2007, and he personally gave us the reassurance that our investment and licence to operate in this country was protected. The actions of PANGTEL yesterday appear to be very politically motivated. We have the full support of the ICCC. It is business as usual for Digicel’.
A good point raised by Mr. Wade of EMTV during questions was what Digicel felt towards the interconnectivity issue and the prospect of running a parallel mobile network in the country. Digicel stated that interconnection discussions have been attempted to be made with Telikom but Telikom have so far dragged out the issue so long now that no resolution on it has been made. Under ICCC however interconnectivity is a requirement for Telikom and Digicel has the right to request interconnectivity from Telikom. Digicel said that their biggest hurdle since setting up in PNG has been the interconnectivity issue. Because of this position by Telikom, Digicel said their strategy will now be to reach 2 million users within 18 months. They now already have 20,000 customers on board.
Digicel also said that their technical infrastructure is now 4 times larger than the B-Mobile network and is state of the art, so if Telikom will not co-operate now, they will aggressively seek growth to make Telikom want to interconnect with them because within 18 months Digicel will have more mobile clients than B-mobile.
Digicel concluded that they are not here to fight regulators, they are simply here to offer competition, to enable economic growth and they will be seeking to talk to the government to clear up the situation. Seamus Lynch said that the people have obviously voted with their feet judging by the strong growth in sales and they will be here to ensure that their customers come first.