Telecom services improving for Kiribati
Kiribati presents a challenging geography for telecommunications network deployments. Traditional network architecture is unsuitable for Kiribati, as the islands are only connected to each other and to the rest of the world via satellite. Some of the inhabited islands still require access to satellite networks and generally speaking fibre-optic infrastructure is unsuitable and too expensive.
The Pacific region as a whole is heavily reliant on mobile technologies for its communication services and Kiribati is no exception. In 2015 Kiribati began to receive the benefit of a renewed interest in its telecoms infrastructure due to the sale of the only telecoms operator, the state-owned Telecommunication Services Kiribati Limited (TSKL) to Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) from Fiji.
The newly formed Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Kiribati Limited (ATHKL) quickly announced it would be performing the first phase of its improvements in Kiribati with 3G and 4G network upgrades deployed in some areas. In addition it upgraded networks to Internet Protocol (IP) and began exploring the option of a low latency affordable internet solution for Kiribati.
Most encouraging to the citizens of Kiribati, considered one of the poorest Islands in the region; ATHKL began offering new affordable handsets as well as attractive pricing plans.
Kiribati may also benefit from the introduction of competition in the mobile sector in the near future. In September 2015 the Government of Kiribati and the Communications Commission of Kiribati (CCK) launched a tender for a second mobile license which would be offered under a 15-year renewable term.
These are all positive developments for a country which faces serious issues relating to over-population, poverty and the very real threat of rising sea levels.
Key telecom parameters – 2013; 2015
|Approximate subscribers to telecoms services: (e)|
|Fixed Broadband users|
(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)
With few natural resources, Kiribati’s economy is very small. While Kiritimati (Christmas Island) is the largest atoll, the majority of the population live on the island of Tarawa. Kiribati is considered to be overpopulated which is placing pressure on infrastructure and resources.
Companies covered in this report include:
Telecom Services Kiribati Ltd (TSKL), Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH), Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Kiribati Limited (ATHKL).