Parliament has passed the Telecommunications Bill and the Competition and Regulatory Authority Bill to allow a new competitor to enter the local market, as well as setting up a regulator to oversee the industry.
Phillip Henderson, chief executive of Bluesky Cook Islands, said law change had been discussed for some years, and provided them some certainty.
There were no surprises: “Certainty means there are a number of developments that Bluesky can now proceed with,” Henderson said. “The company is prepared for the competitive market and is looking forward to working with the new regulatory authority.”
Bluesky significantly increased data caps for customers on monthly mobile and broadband plans this year, ahead of the government opening the doors to competition.
The bills were introduced on Monday passed into law on Tuesday, sparking accusations of hasty law-making from Opposition leader Tina Browne.
She supported improvements to telecommunications service, but said the new law would not guarantee the same benefits to the outer islands. Neither was it fair on the new competitor, which would be subjected to different terms and conditions from Bluesky.
“There should be an even playing field for two teams, three or four teams,” Browne said.
The Opposition Democratic Party moved that the Telecommunications Bill be put before a select committee, but their motion was defeated.
Finance minister Mark Brown said the Act would allow one more licensed mobile provider for a period of four years, in addition to Bluesky.
After four years, the regulator might choose to issue more licences to further applicants, Brown said.
“I think if we look at how competition has affected any other countries in the region, we can see that it has the impact of reducing prices and possibly also improving services to the consumer and this is something I think a lot of people have been waiting for in our country.”