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Improving the internet in the Solomon Islands

The internet in the Solomon Islands is improving slowly. Lately, there has been a surge of new Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Solomon Islands.

These new players have satellite backbones that offer competitive bandwidth prices at incredible bandwidth capacities.

I wonder if this is satellite companies’ response to the Coral Sea cable system. Their advertisements boast capacities and prices that can offer good competition to the Coral Sea cable.

These new ISPs have the capability to deliver to rural communities where much of the infrastructure for internet from the Coral Sea cable is not able to reach. For the next couple of years at least.

Currently, the Coral Sea cable system depends on the infrastructures of the country’s two mobile network operators to reach the rural populace. This is where the torrent of bandwidth capacities promised by the Coral Sea cable system comes to a grinding halt.

ISP’s Challenges

Apart from the 4G in Honiara, anywhere else outside Honiara cannot reach bandwidth capacities of 10Mbps. Sub-urban centers around the country still has 3G whilst everywhere else only has 2G or simply nothing.

There are other internet delivery technologies such as ADSL, Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and Fixed Wireless. These are only possible in Honiara. Reaching the rest of the country with these technologies are almost not possible.

This is an opportunity for satellite ISPs to capitalize on and sell their services to rural and sub-urban provincial locals.

Customer’s Challenges

These new players start with at least 20Mbps uncapped usage for rates of just over SBD1000 (USD120) for a month. Whether these are contended or dedicated bandwidth, I am still to find out.

For comparison, current players that connect to the Coral Sea cable sell 1.5Mbps uncapped for range between SBD1000 (USD120) to SBD5000 (USD600).

The only hurdle for the new kids in the ISP block is the initial cost of satellite earth station terminals. These are very expensive for an average Solomon Islander to afford. It cost around USD850.

Regardless of those differences, competition is heating up. Hopefully, the current ISPs will notice and do something to be competitive – at least in the Fixed Internet market.

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