Vodafone, Digicel welcome law change
Telecommunication service providers, Vodafone Samoa and Digicel Samoa, have welcomed the Government's decision to relax regulations governing promotions.
All products and promotions by the companies were required to be approved by the Office of the Regulator before.
But Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi announced last Saturday that the Government has moved to change this to allow the companies to provide the best services for their customers.
“I have been informed by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology [Afamasaga Rico Tupai] that they have reformed this process," said Tuilaepa. "This was implemented recently [last week] which will enable telecommunication service providers to be more free."
Vodafone Samoa’s Chief Executive Officer, Satish Kumar Sharma, applauded the decision.
“This opportunity has been given to communications industry to innovate and without any restrictions,” he said.
“Earlier when we wanted to launch a product or promotion, we are supposed to put that request to the Regulator and they will validate and give a confirmation which will take some time.
“But now, if you plan a promotion, we just notify the Regulator's Office and then go ahead with the launch and that is a very positive step in the industry. We have already started utilising this opportunity for our customers.”
Providing improved services for their customers is key, he said.
"If you compare our products with anybody else we are already ahead of the competition in terms of our product offerings.
“We will be introducing a variety of products to suit the needs of various customers at affordable prices and we have to cater to online and offline callings. During the State of Emergency (S.O.E.) we have given out a lot of student sim cards that comes with a lot of educational benefits.”
Vodafone Samoa has also offered a one month free of payments for its prepaid and postpaid customers using Moana TV.
“If they are in lockdown in their homes they can be entertained on television. And also for postpaid customers we have assured them that if they cannot afford payments we have extended their payments till 21 of May.
“In terms of the month of April Vodafone has given away 1Gigabyte data free for all its customers.”
Chief Executive Officer of Digicel, Mark Witthuhn, also welcomed the Government's decision, saying it has given them a lot more flexibility.
“What has changed is that under the Promotions Pilot scheme, Digicel is able to introduce new promotions and short term offers without first having to go through a regulatory approval process.”
He added that the Digicel is able to respond faster to its customer needs.
“And also Digicel is able to provide quick market responses to offers that may be introduced by its competitor.
“Customers will benefit from this competition and Digicel is able to respond more quickly to support customers with new short term offers that may be needed to suit particular market circumstances, for example, in the current COVID-19 epidemic.
“Such measures to allow competition forces to work quickly in the market to self-regulate is welcomed and is a testament to the forward looking stance of the Office of the Regulator as well as the Ministry for Communications.”
Digicel confirmed in a media release, dated 26 March its support to Government and students during the S.O.E. lockdown.
Mr. Witthuhn stated that they are doing their part as an essential service in the telecommunication sector to assist the Samoan community during this time.
“We want our customers to continue communicating with their loved ones with our Cheehoo bundles which has great value with unlimited texts and minutes as well as more data that can be used for social messaging or staying updated digitally with what’s happening around us.
“A simple check- up on family and friends and communicating that everyone is ok is very important at this stage.
“Digicel has also improved the bandwidth capacity to key Government Ministries at no charge in an effort to cater for the increased data demand while keeping Samoa safe.”
He added that additional spectrum has been allocated, at no charge to Digicel and on a temporary basis, by the Office of the Regulator as well as the Ministry for Communications.
“This additional spectrum allows Digicel to maintain a good user experience across our network as the data volumes increase.
“We celebrate the good work of frontline personnel as well as emergency providers in health, electricity, policing, water, communications, as well as the supermarkets and restaurants to name a few who allow us to live well even in the midst of stark uncertainty.
“We have worked with key stakeholders likes National University of Samoa and University of the South Pacific to allow free access to all the necessary sites for both the students and teachers to access so they can continue studies as usual online with our student sim offers.”
The CEO of Digicel Samoa added that as a country, “information is the key during these times.”
“Government directives and communications are of great importance to avoid misinformation and false guidance.
“In this regard, we have made the essential services where official communications will be channeled also free of access for the wider public. This includes key websites like the World Health Organisation, Ministry of Health and more.
“We celebrate the good work of frontline personnel as well as emergency providers in health, electricity, policing, water, communications, as well as the supermarkets and restaurants to name a few who allow us to live well even in the midst of stark uncertainty.”