MAKING THE INTERNET AFFORDABLE
The board of the newly named Kumul Telikom is prioritising the completion of the international cable link and the rollout of its 4G mobile phone system, according to the Chairman of the new-look Kumul Telikom, Mahesh Patel.
The government has decided to merge bmobile Vodafone and PNG Dataco as subsidiaries of Telikom PNG, which will be renamed Kumul Telikom, but will remain a subsidiary of the state-owned enterprise, Kumul Consolidated Holdings.
Patel tells Business Advantage PNG the ultimate goal is for the consumer to get affordable, low-cost internet. ‘That’s the bottom line,’ he says. ‘From my perspective as Chairman, it’s the customer first. If they’re not going to get the internet prices slashed, then what’s the point?’
Patel says once bmobile and Dataco are brought under the control of Kumul Telikom, the board will assess how best to use their assets and resources.
He says there will be a retail arm—which will provide fixed, mobile and content services—and a wholesale arm.
‘The board’s intention is to provide a one-stop shop for the consumer, but that will require a lot of planning before any decisions are made,’ he says.
Funding of the telco’s development is also an issue. Patel says while Telikom and bmobile are ‘EBITDApositive’, the problem is that government debts are ‘not allowing us to free up any cash’.
‘We’re looking at realigning our banking facilities now that we’ve got a firm structure. We have the capacity to borrow within our own means. We have to ask ourselves how do we generate cash and, with whatever cash that is generated, where is the best use for that?
‘The restructure will not minimise competition, but actually strengthen competition so that there is competition.’
Kumul Telikom’s Chairman, Mahesh Patel.