‘Set top box is $99’

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with Lautoka bean seller Abdul Faiyub inside the newly-opened Walesi Lautoka Customer Service Centre at Vitogo Parade, Lautoka. Picture: SITERI SAUVAKACOLO/FILE

The Walesi set top box costs $99 and not $149, the company said in a statement.

Walesi also said a subsidy scheme launched in 2016 subsidised free Walesi set top box to any household which had a joint income of below $30,000 and had benefited 109,761 Fijians.

“In total, 134,797 Walesi set top boxes have been issued to Fijians across the country,” the statement said.

The Fiji Times this week reported a statement in Parliament by National Federation Party parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua where she said plans to hold classes over the Walesi platform would come at a cost to parents.

She said struggling parents would find it difficult to fork out $149 to purchase a Walesi set top box so it would not be accessible to all students.

Both Walesi and the Education Minister reacted strongly against her concerns, saying the equipment was called a Walesi set top box and retailed at $99.

Both issued a statement saying The Fiji Times article and Ms Qereqeretabua’s statement lacked proper research.

The Fiji Times had this week also conducted random surveys among people on the streets and those living in urban and rural communities.

Many, such as Tulia Nauvi of Jittu Estate, Suva, said they had a free Walesi box but it was not used because the reception was either poor and they did not know how to get it connected.

Others such as Navuso, Naitasiri village headman Joweli Mudu, said most of the 50 families in the village did not have access to Walesi.

There were others who said they did not own a TV or a smartphone to download the Walesi app.

According to Walesi, there have been 450,499 downloads of their app and this gave users full accessibility to all channels including the education channel.

Walesi said it had 711 satellite installations across the country with the majority of these installations in maritime areas where previously no TV transmission was available.

“Walesi strongly refutes the erroneous claims made by the newspaper and the member of Parliament regarding Walesi service accessibility, the cost of set top boxes and options to acquire Walesi set top boxes.”

When approached for comment Ms Qereqeretabua maintained her concerns were about the costs and accessibility.

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