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David Hastings Information, Communication and Space Technology Division United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok [email protected]

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0: Contents: 0. Overview Stocktaking – the situation is better than one may think Technical situation – several options are available Economic situation – everyone should be able to have access, even if shared.

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0: Contents:

  • 0. Overview
  • Stocktaking – the situation is better than one may think
  • Technical situation – several options are available
  • Economic situation – everyone should be able to have access, even if shared.
  • Institutional situation – role models exist. The Pacific has good opportunities – if it moves soon.
  • Appendices – online only

David Hastings

Information, Communication and Space Technology Division

United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok

[email protected]

3 typically expressed challenges now good answers for most
3: Typically Expressed ChallengesNow: good answers for most
  • Small populations (is 10+ million people small – compared with success stories like Singapore, Hong Kong, the Eastern Caribbean, Mauritius?).
  • Widely dispersed/isolated (like Atlantic Ocean African cities, Mauritius, the Eastern Caribbean?).
  • About half of ~600 populated islands have telecoms - much of those have 2-way radio. (Solar-powered satellite phone can be cheaper (~40 cents/minute) than current systems for long-distance calling or emergency communication in some economies.)
  • Saddled with legacy “monopolistic” concessions This is a policy which can be maintained or changed. (The eastern Caribbean found that monopolies violate constitutional provisions for freedom of expression, including to receive and disseminate freely).
  • Not attractive to investors (But many are knowledge societies with 90+% literacy and more than competitive wages, or are excellent markets for distance education – Pacific islands are solutions awaiting good partners). Maybe US$80 million/year could be available for investors, if more competitive prices/services were available.
  • Cable and satellite are expensive (Telikom PNG just re-deployed 1st-generation cable for US$11 million. Adding Tonga, Samoa or Vanuatu to existing cabling might cost $4 million each. A new broadband satellite, with local participation, could serve Pacific island states as well as bigger markets. Is it time to pursue such goals?)

5: An alternative to high-priced 2G cable?

Re-deployed (good quality) 1G cable ~$2-5 million per leg?

“SPIN++” or for US$35-50M, rather than for US$100+M?


6: How much for a Pacific satellite? Can it attract markets in Asia, ANZ, Americas?

EDUSAT was built and launched for $65 million. Could 2 EDUSATs serve you?

Pacific island states service centres

Anik F2 spot beams

10 is there enough money to pay for improvements
10:Is there enough moneyto pay for improvements?
  • Prof. James McMaster estimated US$66M/year saved by current-model telecoms. 13 Pacific economies.
  • For all economies in this study, we guess US$80M/yr => >US$1.2 Billion over 15 years of cable, satellite.
  • Satellite =>$100-400M? Cable => $50-500M?
  • 15 yr savings => $1200M? => “the money is there” (?)

11: A challenge: Falling telecoms prices: Will they bankrupt providers?

(Traffic growth usually outpaces price declines – bringing profits)



13 good experiences satellite
13: Good experiences? (satellite)
  • OPT & Telecom Cook Islands – shared satcom bandwidth. Such models can save $$$ elsewhere in the Pacific.
  • Before going for a new satellite, should Pacific consortia try negotiating with Sat-GE-23, AsiaSat, and others (to form a supplier/user consortium) to serve the Pacific safely for less $
  • O3B Networks – sounds good – but details of up-front, marginal (bandwidth, Earth station operations costs), and possible regulatory challenges are needed.

Good experiences? (cable)

Affordable re-deployment of 1st-generation cable?

PNG? Samoa (an update today?)

14 good experiences regulatory etc
14: Good experiences? (regulatory, etc.)
  • ECTEL’s Caribbean federation helped small island states build competitive modern telecoms systems.
  • Dominica determined that restriction of telecoms competition infringed onconstitutional freedom of expression. Laws & contracts establishing monopolies were declared unconstitutional, thus void.
  • Competitive mobile phone services/pricing in the Caribbean & elsewhere are dramatically increasing accessibility, even to low-income people.
15 possible next steps
15: Possible Next Steps?
  • Short-term?: (a) Forming state-provider user consortia to aggregate user volumes, to obtain more cost-effective group(ed) rates satellite operators for cheaper bandwidth? (PITA is working on this.) (b) be ready to negotiate (cohesively?) with possible cable promoters?
  • Medium-term?: (a) pursue wholesale-able & retail-able affordable infrastructure? (b) pursue services? (c) pursue partnerships toward providing more cutting edge services/pricing? (d) opportunistically pursue cable landings as opportunities may arise?
  • Longer-term?: (a) pursue a satellite, and additional marketable services? (b) pursue additional retailers, who could become your customers for wholesaling services?
16 summary
16: Summary
  • Typically expressed challenges – Now: good answers for most.
  • Is there enough money to pay for improvements?Yes.
  • Do governments have to pay for or subsidize infrastructure or customers?No.
  • Good experiences to adapt? – how to leverage for the Pacific?
    • Monopolies – (1) Found to be unconstitutional impingement of freedom of expression in the Caribbean. Laws, contracts were declared void. (2) Competitors DO want to come into small economies, where opportunity exists. (3) A single provider CAN act competitively – but supportive practices, and accountability, need to be in place.
    • Are people offering you a cable for $50-150 million? How about $3-15 million as happened for PNG?Are they offering landings for $3 million?(How about being a part owner if you must capitalize the system, as was done for WASC in Africa)?
    • Short-term satellite – groups arranging for better collective deals? It happened in .pf and .ci. Western Pacific – 40-cent/minute international satcom phone calls? (Thuraya ECO system.)
    • Longer-term: Can the Pacific get a satellite, also generating revenue from Pacific rim economies? Something like this was offered to the Pacific, but “not responded to”. It could be offered again. Satellites are often costed at $300+ million. But they have been built/launched for < $100 million.
  • Pacific decisionmakers could use a colleague network to make good decisions, and to design, build, operate and support good modern telecoms.
  • How to benefit from cooperation?: The Pacific has many regional cooperative institutions, among governments & service providers. At Noumea in March (2008), a strategy for moving forward, using the Pacific Plan Digital Strategy, was sketched. Is this what you also think? Are more resources useful? I wish I were with you for the rest of the day, as you discuss this and other issues on moving forward.
thank you

17: For the Pacific – is it time to better leverage regional cooperation toward affordable “universal service?”

For several other non-ideally connected economies. Maybe there is a little of the Pacific (‘s problems) in you, and a little of you (‘re problems) in the Pacific? Is there an opportunity to strengthen your own situation through greater cooperation?

Thank You!

David Hastings (author-speaker): [email protected] (to 31 December)

[email protected] (after 31 December)

WU Guoxiang (ESCAP, Bangkok): [email protected]