Thesis Rant

Can't bring myself to work on it right now but can't stop thinking about it either so here I am in here to bash out the last of it lingering like a bad taste in my mouth, so I can just get on with enjoying my weekend.

Essentially what I'm looking at is competition in telecommunications in Samoa. I'm looking at whether the de-regulation of communications as resulted in improved telecommunications services to the country ( < Research Question 1). Secondly, recognising that competition, while a fairly simple premise (make the whole thing a sport and it should 1) result in improved overall skill and results and 2) weed out the losers) is a fairly complex process that involves several stakeholders, often with conflicting interests e.g. Telecommunications service providers (the digicels, samoatels, CSLs and iPasifikas of the world), Government (being the dude that sets the rules), The Office of the regulator (being the enforcer of the rules - the referee if you like) and of course the Users (text message freaks and bloggers like you, me and Dupree. Oh, and of course the entire educational/ governmental and business community) SO, competition/ deregulation in telecommunications (or any sector for that matter) being a relatively new phenomena in the context of Pacific island nations, everyone involved is feeling a little ill-equipped to deal with what's going on. Therefore, I'm trying to identify and describe what the current issues are for each of the involved stakeholders as pertaining to competition and improving communications service to the country. ( < Research Question 2).

How'd I do it? Welllll... I reviewed lit (not because I wanted to) but because academic standards dictate that "good research" means you read what the other guys have done. And really, who are you not to. So I looked at competition lit and innovation lit and then lit that looked at the inter-relationship between the two. Lots of boring case studies. Findings of the lit - that competition has been done in the big countries already fairly successfully (duh, we knew that) and 1) it is proven to have resulted in better performance/ service etc.. and 2) the key issues identified in many of the cases are actually quite similar from case to case. The main ones have to do with making sure the Regulator chap is given the appropriate powers to do his job properly as ref, and then him making the right decisions. At this point I argue that the situation in the Pacific can obviously learn from those big country lessons... buuuuut, there will be differences. After all, the reason we've been monopolies for so long is that we're tiny and isolated - how are countries with populations of hundred thousand sustain more than one mobile provider. NZ has 3 million people and 2 providers. Germany has 4 providers. Samoa has less than 200,000 people. You do the math.

Nevertheless, Pacific island governments left and right are introducing competition (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu have all created new Telecom Acts to open up their markets)...

SO! It's a critical stage of telecom development in the region... an assessment of whether it's a success... and of what the challenges are for everyone involved ... would be quite nice (Enter, girl with the big hair)

So HOW on earth did I decide to do this... firstly, narrowing it.. looking ONLY Samoa (for now) and getting specific with research questions. In order to address whether it's been a success for Samoa (in terms of improved communication) I look at pricing and product data from before and after Digicel entered the market. Regarding the issues of different stakeholders... I just asked all of them. Ministry folks, Regulator dude, players on the field and for good measure, the PM. And of course the users which I chose a sample of expert users to participate in a focus group.

Once I did my data collection (pricing and product survey and interviews) I set about analyyyyzing the data to see what I could find.

AND! That's where I'm at right now. Trying to make sense of the mess of data that I collected.

Of course I have a sense of what the findings are... buuut, I need to frame into concrete "themes" and statistically significant tabular crap, which I haven't quite reached that level of clarity quite yet but I'll get there.

My defense date is early August so I have a bit of time. But just a bit. To finish writing the damned thing when I can be damned to write the damned thing.

More fun discussion about this to come.

I know, bet you can't fecking wait.