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Truths, Half-truths and Fibre Cables: An optic on telecommunications in the Pacific

After an 8-year sabbatical from Pacific Legal Network, Regional Special Counsel, Andrew Kidu, has already taken his place on the hot seat, for a tell-all session on telecommunications across the South Pacific.

On 10 July, PLN hosted a closed-door evening of networking at its headquarters overlooking Hyde Park. The night was a unique opportunity to meet Andrew Kidu and listen to his keynote discussion regarding telecommunications, with the benefit of 8 years experience as an in-house lawyer for a major telecommunications company.

This was a small closed-door function, so we thought we would provide our wider readership with some key insights from the night.

With the Australian media frenzy surrounding the growth of China’s influence in the Pacific islands serving as a backdrop, the event was sure to provide an insider’s read of what is actually happening between all those headlines.

In his keynote, Andrew Kidu addressed the key developments in the telecommunications sector in the Pacific, including:

  • liberalisation across many Pacific island markets, as governments and regulators cut red tape to investment;

  • better telco and non-telco infrastructure, due to liberalisation, in many remote island communities providing better economic and social development outcomes; and

  • good levels of basic coverage and the way in which business has been changed forever in through new modes of conducting business via mobile technology.

Andrew also peppered the presentation with his views on what risks and opportunities exist presently in the Pacific islands telecommunications markets. Touching on regulatory uncertainty and issues surrounding both external and internal political interferences (such as, social media bans and sanctions), Andrew set out the way in which the telecommunications sector could be set for exponential growth due to:

  • the continued rollout of 3G+, 4G and, eventually, 5G networks occurring alongside non-ICT infrastructure upgrades;

  • increased demand and improved access to broadband, television and value added services like mobile banking, e-health and e-power;

  • regulatory reviews and the upskilling of regulators.

The event was more than just an opportunity to meet Andrew Kidu and discuss the placing of cables and government financing. We also enjoyed introducing our Sydney-based community to the PLN team from both PNG and Fiji and the lively discussion of legal developments occurring outside of the telecommunications sector that followed.

Following the event, Andrew Kidu was interviewed by ABC’s Radio Australia program, Pacific Beat. The interview as well as the news segment discussing telecommunications in the South Pacific can be listened to here.

For more information, please contact one of our team.

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