2nd March, 2017 On the 1st of March 2017, Tonga entered into a new era with its communication sector. This is so, due to the commencement or the coming into force of its new Communications Act 2015 (‘CA15’). With this commencement, marks the repeal of the old and outdated Communications Act 2000.
The CA15 brought with itself a whole new level of governance, communications licensing scheme and a regulatory framework for Tonga’s communication sector. Its main objects, amongst others, were to support and give effect to national development policies; establish and exert new powers and functions on the Ministry; and most importantly, the vesting of powers and functions on the yet to be established newly independent Communication Commission.
Not only that CA15 aims to promote the efficiency of licensees and the promoting of a fair and sustainable competition in the supply of communication services and facilities, but also ensures the protection and the promotion of the interest of customers.
The CA15 will in due course, require existing licence holders to voluntarily transition from their old licences to new licences entitled to them under the CA15. The new regulatory and licensing regime ensures that network operators and service providers will be granted with the appropriate licence that will suit the communication service(s) they are offering to the people of Tonga.
Following this commencement, the Ministry, until when the Communication Commission is established, will play the role of Regulator of the country’s communication sector. This will not only ensure a more regularised, competitive telecom market, or a more levelled and fair playing field, but one that is in line with international trend and international best practice.
Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications