Business Advantage Papua New Guinea - - Infrastructure & Transport Telecommunications -

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.

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