Telcos bring city and ru­ral PNG into the dig­i­tal world

PNG’S telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies are in the throes of ex­tend­ing their cov­er­age across the coun­try, and adding tele­vi­sion, data com­mu­ni­ca­tions and IT ser­vices to their suite of of­fer­ings.

Business Advantage Papua New Guinea - - Telecommunications -

Since the PNG gov­ern­ment be­gan dereg­u­lat­ing the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket in 2005, the range of tech­nolo­gies has ex­panded, the num­ber of providers in­creased, prices have fallen and ac­cess to ser­vices has im­proved.

Dig­i­cel

Ir­ish-owned Dig­i­cel PNG con­trols about 95% of PNG’S mo­bile phone mar­ket and is in­creas­ingly pre­sent­ing a wider range of ser­vices, in­clud­ing in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity. In Novem­ber 2014, it launched up its own multi-sta­tion, free-to-air and pay-tv net­work, adding to its 2013 pur­chase of in­ter­net ser­vice provider, Dal­tron.

Since en­ter­ing PNG in 2007, Dig­i­cel has in­vested K1.7 bil­lion into build­ing its net­work and in 2014 com­mit­ted it­self to ex­pand­ing its net­work to cover 100% of PNG’S pop­u­la­tion, in the process go­ing from 800 trans­mis­sion tow­ers to 1160.

Dig­i­cel ex­ec­u­tives es­ti­mate that 80% of Dig­i­cel’s in­ter­net traf­fic goes out over satel­lite, with only 20% go­ing out across fi­bre.

our cus­tomer base,’ Te­likom PNG'S Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Michael Donnelly tells Busi­ness Ad­van­tage PNG. ‘And we are re­cal­i­brat­ing our staff skill sets through an ag­gres­sive grad­u­ate pro­gramme where we bring in peo­ple from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines out of the uni­ver­si­ties in PNG, whether they’re in eco­nomics or in HR, in ICT or phys­i­cal sciences, be­cause our busi­ness cov­ers a lot of those dis­ci­plines.’'

Bmo­bile

Mean­while, an in­jec­tion of funds and a part­ner­ship with an in­ter­na­tional mo­bile phone part­ner is en­abling bmo­bile to be more com­pet­i­tive.

Bmo­bile joined in the ex­pan­sion by es­tab­lish­ing a mar­ket­ing part­ner­ship with telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant Voda­fone UK and plans to dou­ble its re­tail pres­ence by mid-2016.

CEO Sun­dar Ra­ma­murthy told Busi­ness Ad­van­tage PNG that, since he took over as CEO, bmo­bile has im­proved its per­for­mance and is adding new cus­tomers, while call com­ple­tion rates have risen from 33% to in ex­cess of 98%. Bmo­bile also op­er­ates the sec­ond mo­bile phone net­work in the Solomon Is­lands.

New whole­saler

The gov­ern­ment has cre­ated a new whole­sale en­tity to al­low Telkom, Dig­i­cel, bmo­bile and oth­ers to fo­cus on com­pet­ing in the re­tail space.

Es­tab­lished by the PNG Gov­ern­ment to ac­quire the trans­mis­sion as­sets pre­vi­ously con­trolled by Te­likom PNG, PNG Dat­aco was launched to up­grade, own and op­er­ate the Na­tional Trans­mis­sion Net­work (NTN)—PNG’S na­tional broad­band net­work.

PNG Dat­aco will make the NTN avail­able to ICT op­er­a­tors, such as Te­likom PNG and Dig­i­cel PNG, who will then on-sell their re­tail ser­vices to cor­po­rate and res­i­den­tial users.

As PNG Dat­aco Ltd Chair­man Reuben Kautu ex­plains to Busi­ness Ad­van­tage PNG, the launch of the com­pany puts PNG on a path to su­pe­rior ICT in­fra­struc­ture.

‘With Dat­aco’s cre­ation, we are now work­ing to connect and pro­vide a com­plete loop from Madang right through the High­lands down via the PNG LNG fi­bre op­tic ca­ble to connect to Port Moresby,’ Kautu says.

‘This link will en­sure that this traf­fic or in­ter­net data can be re-routed to Madang and out, in­creas­ing the utilisation on the PPC-1 Ca­ble [the ocean ca­ble which con­nects PNG to the world via Madang].’

Kautu out­lines how the re­struc­ture will ben­e­fit in­ter­net ser­vice providers (ISP), say­ing: ‘We are build­ing the in­fra­struc­ture and we are en­cour­ag­ing and invit­ing the re­tail­ers like Te­likom, bmo­bile, Dig­i­cel, and other ISPS to come on board.

‘They have a choice to build their own in­fra­struc­ture in some ar­eas but we are determined to pro­vide in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic ca­pac­ity ser­vices at com­pet­i­tive rates.’

Data ser­vices are in­creas­ingly over­tak­ing phone calls as the num­ber one use for mo­bile phones, with a range of fi­nan­cial ser­vices trans­ac­tions pos­si­ble.

Te­likom PNG'S Michael Donnelly.

Bmo­bile Voda­fone’s Sun­dar Ra­ma­murthy

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