Kiribati Signs Telecommunications Deal In Marshall Islands

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Follows similar deal with Solomons for satellite, bandwidth access

By Giff Johnson

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 16, 2012) – The Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has signed its second deal with a South Pacific neighbor to provide satellite and fiber cable communications links to the outside world. "This is providing additional revenue to NTA," said National Telecommunications Authority general manager Tommy Kijiner Jr.

The deal with Telecom Service Kiribati Ltd. follows an agreement signed earlier this year with a telecom company in the Solomon Islands. Both telecom outfits are buying satellite time and fiber cable bandwidth from the Majuro-based telecom. "This is helpful to NTA because we have satellite contracts that we are committed to, but that we’re not using (because of the submarine fiber cable that was installed two years ago)," he said.

The satellite links provided to the two neighboring country telecoms are connected to NTA’s fiber optic cable, giving the Solomons and Kiribati greater access to the outside world through NTA’s telecommunications network.

He said Kiribati is buying only a small amount of bandwidth at the outset of the new agreement in part because of limitations in its equipment. Kijiner expects Kiribati to increase its usage of satellite bandwidth in the future.

As part of the deal with the Solomon Islands Bemobile, an NTA technician flew to the Solomons to install and commission a larger satellite dish so that the Solomons telecom would expand its use of satellite transmissions, which means more revenue to NTA.

"With Kiribati, it is only for Internet service now," Kijiner said. "But there is a lot of room for cooperation between NTA and Kiribati." He noted unmet cell phone demand in South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, as well as outer island communications needs in Kiribati.

"We hope the agreements with the Solomons and Kiribati will help us sell services to other Pacific neighbors such as Nauru and Tuvalu," Kijiner said.

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