While there has been much fanfare about the early outcomes of telecommunications reform in Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu, less attention has been given to the regulatory challenges these countries encountered in the early stages of the reform programs. This study examined the role and effectiveness of independent regulators through comparative case study analyses of the three countries, based on insights drawn from semi-structured interviews with telecommunications officials, operators, regulators and users. It found that the early regulatory reforms in the Pacific showed evidence of 'regulatory capture' through legislative amendments and political influences on the operation of the office of the regulator. Further, the reliance of independent regulators on the national parliament's budget appropriation and the lack of technical and financial resources imposed burdens on the independent regulators. On the other hand, the study found that the legal contractual agreement-the deed of settlement-signed between governments and the incumbent telecommunications operators and competition from new entrants provided immediate policy certainty to the reform process and catalysed the finalisation of the reform package.
|Journal||Pacific Economic Bulletin|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|