By: L.N. Reklai
May 29, 2017 (Koror, Palau) A bill to change the existing telecommunication legal framework was submitted to both House and Senate of the Olbiil Era Kelulau by the Office of the President yesterday.
The bill seeks to “liberalize” the telecom market by “creating a level playing field for market participants”, increase public and private investment in the telecom sector and adopt policies “to encourage growth and ensure improvements in access to and affordability of telecom service”.
In his transmittal letter, President Remengesau states that the bill will replace the “out-of-date” telecom laws and regulations. In addition, he said the bill is necessary to “spur continued growth in the Republic’s private and public sectors.”
The bill seeks to create a new Authority, which will be an independent regulatory body serving as a referee between telecoms by implementing and enforcing telecom regulations.
The authority will acquire some of the current mandates of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Communications such as assigning, managing and regulating frequencies. The Authority gets general policy direction from the Ministry of MPIIC but operates under an independent Authority board.
Under the proposed bill, the Authority also acquires ability to level the “playing field” as it sees fit with authority such mandating companies to “share space”, or causing existing providers to share land use with new providers which is one of the challenges current and new telecom companies face in expanding network and facilities.
The liberalization, according to transmittal, is expected to generate additional investments into infrastructure in form of privatizations and new market entrants.
The draft bill was put together with advice and assistance of the Asian Development Bank. [/restrict]