Details for TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONSUMER AWARENESS AND EDUCATIONAL
TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONSUMER AWARENESS AND EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES ACROSS VANUATU How to Lodge a Complaint to TRR for its Mediation TRR wishes to inform all good users of mobile services across the country that if you have any issues regarding coverage, any other services offered by the Telecommunications Operators, it is important that you follow the following complaint handling steps: • A consumer/Customer must submit his/her complaint to his or her service provider (TVL or Digicel in terms of mobile (voice) services and make sure you keep record of your complaint details sent to your service provider; • If your service provider has not responded to you within 5 days, you have the right to bring forward your recorded issue (sent to your service provider) to TRR for mediation; • If your service provider has provided its response and still you have not satisfied with that response, you also have the right to bring forward to the TRR for its mediation. • For more information, visit TRR’s website on the following link: http://www.trr.vu/ index.php/en/consumer/consumer-protection/voicing-your-complaint or call TRR on 27621 and or email email@example.com. Brief Understanding on the implementation of Government Universal Access Policy (UAP) The Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator (TRR) is the implementation Authority for the Government of Vanuatu’s Universal Access Policy (UAP) endorsed by the Council of Ministers in November 2013. The UAP has the core objective of providing access to telecommunications services such as voice; narrowband data services including text messaging and broadband internet services that shall enable download speed of at least 21 Mbps and upload speed of at least 12 Mbps. The UAP targets those areas that are classified as unserved or underserved with regards to accessing the above listed telecommunications services. Understanding Population Coverage versus Geographical Coverage One of the biggest areas of misinterpretation and misinformation is in respect to coverage. The public at large still misinterprets that population coverage equates to geographical coverage. If we consider population coverage, the TRR has based its analysis on the 2009 census population data, freely available on the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VSNO) website. This data provides the distribution of population across the country and can be mapped to provide a physical representation of this distribution. On the other hand, the geographical coverage refers to the coverage of the landmass of Vanuatu, despite whether there are people living there or not at all. Geographical coverage in terms of the UAP is costly and highly uneconomical for the Operators in particularly Digicel and TVL who are currently rolling out to meet the 98% population coverage. It would be true that these operators do not want to expend capital to provide coverage to an area, where there is no population at all, and they are unable to achieve a return on their investment. Other Important Information on the UAP Obligations and Challenges To be able to reach the 98% population coverage as required by the UAP, the Government of that time has identified 21 sites (villages and/or communities) across Vanuatu. TRR has had to collaborate and be guided by the Operators (TVL and Digicel) in selecting these sites (were effectively unserved or underserved), and that will contributed to the 98% population target, provided a moderate return on their investment and were within reason from a logistics point of view. The operators agreed to construct 21 sites funded entirely from their own capital budgets, with no funds being allocated by the government or any other funding urgency for this infrastructure build. The Operators also agreed to a reasonably aggressive timeline of 2 years for this construction of these new towers and an upgrade of all sites to 3G technology. In meeting these obligations the Operators have had to negotiate their way through a number of challenges such as land disputes, rental demands, labour demands, theft and other such demands beyond the scope of any normal business relationship. Whilst these issues could have stopped the Operators from building they have in good faith found alternatives and continued to construct for the betterment of the country. It should still be recognised that to even cover the final few percent and to ensure the UAP target of 98% of the population having access to services, has meant that TVL and Digicel have invested over 900 million vatu, of their own capital, to construct 21 towers across the country to ensure telecommunications services are available, affordable and accessible to the number of unserved and underserved areas across Vanuatu. In Vanuatu’s case it is difficult to find that level of private investment into the country that is not governmental or in some way donated. The UAP is ongoing and evolving and although the policy being implemented now is due for completion at the end of 2017, further policies requiring more access and greater services are likely to be developed. These newer policies will take consideration of the changing environment, newer technologies and greater partnerships between government and private enterprise. Whilst this development, the Office of the Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator (TRR) is receiving complains indirectly regarding the implementation of the Universal Access Policy, the TRR is off the opinion that the general public are lacking knowledge on the implementation scope of the Policy. The TRR believes that with this column, it will clarify some of the unanswered questions. However the TRR invites and welcome anyone to its Office, who wish to further discuss and understand the implementation of the Universal Access Policy.