Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions

Ma­jor de­vel­op­ments are in the pipe­line for PNG’S telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor.

Business Advantage Papua New Guinea - - Contents - By Kevin Mcquil­lan

Pro­posed changes in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor prom­ise to boost data speeds, widen broad­band cov­er­age, im­prove e-com­merce, en­hance com­pe­ti­tion, and re­duce the cost of mo­bile phone and in­ter­net us­age.

Cen­tral to the strat­egy is a re­struc­ture of the gov­ern­ment’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, bmo­bile Voda­fone and PNG Dat­aco. They will be­come sub­sidiaries of Te­likom PNG, which will be re­named Kumul Te­likom.

The Act­ing Min­is­ter for Pub­lic In­vest­ment and State En­ter­prises, Charles Abel, says the aim is to build a stronger, ver­ti­cally in­te­grated com­pany.

The new en­tity will op­er­ate under a sin­gle board, headed by Te­likom’s cur­rent chair­man, Ma­hesh Pa­tel.

‘The trans­fer­ring of the coun­try’s main fixed-line and gate­way as­sets into one en­tity, Dat­aco, will pro­vide back­bone ser­vices and in­ter­na­tional con­nec­tiv­ity to op­er­a­tors, and will be pos­i­tive for the mar­ket,’ ob­serves Vanessa d’alan­con, Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion An­a­lyst with Sin­ga­pore-based BMI Re­search, a sub­sidiary of the rat­ings agency, Fitch.

She says after Dat­aco’s plans to up­grade and run the Na­tional Trans­mis­sion Net­work (NTN) are com­pleted, in­ter­net ser­vice providers and cor­po­rates will have ac­cess to whole­sale ca­pac­ity.

‘This will pro­vide a boost to band­width and en­cour­age mar­ket com­pe­ti­tion, which should re­duce prices over the medium-term, she says.

Port Moresby–based IT spe­cial­ist Rus­sell Woruba, of Tara­gai Ad­vi­sory, be­lieves the re­struc­ture will re­duce prices, and al­low tel­cos to pro­vide at­trac­tive bun­dled ser­vices, in­clud­ing me­dia con­tent, cloud op­tions and pro­fes­sional ser­vices.

An­other view comes from Masalai Com­mu­ni­ca­tions’ IT spe­cial­ist, Em­manuel Narokobi: ‘There is a huge cul­tural shift that needs to take place in­ter­nally within all the or­gan­i­sa­tions.’

‘Given the un­der­de­vel­oped tele­com ser­vices, PNG’S tele­com mar­ket has enor­mous growth po­ten­tial,’ a re­port by Sydney-based telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions an­a­lyst, Bud­de­com, says.

‘De­spite the chal­lenges, the coun­try of­fers many in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. An in­creas­ing num­ber of Pa­puans are em­brac­ing the dig­i­tal age, par­tic­u­larly the younger gen­er­a­tion, and mo­bile phones in par­tic­u­lar are be­com­ing

GIVEN THE UN­DER­DE­VEL­OPED TELE­COM SER­VICES, PNG’S TELE­COM MAR­KET HAS ENOR­MOUS GROWTH PO­TEN­TIAL. Bud­de­comm

a more im­por­tant source of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion.’

Mo­bile tele­phones

Mo­bile tele­phony pen­e­tra­tion in PNG ex­tends to ap­prox­i­mately 90 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. In­ter­net ac­cess, how­ever, is avail­able to only 10 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

Dig­i­cel is the lead­ing mo­bile provider in PNG, hav­ing cor­nered about 90 per cent of the mo­bile phone and broad­band mar­ket since it won a li­cence to op­er­ate in 2007. Its com­peti­tor, bmo­bile Voda­fone, is gain­ing trac­tion, how­ever.

In early 2017, Te­likom and Dig­i­cel be­gan rolling out 4G/LTE net­works, of­fer­ing dis­counted de­vices and pack­ages to cus­tomers in or­der to en­cour­age take-up.

Dig­i­cel’s re­cently ap­pointed Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Brett Goschen, tells Busi­ness

Ad­van­tage PNG that his goal is to im­prove ‘data through­put speeds, net­work avail­abil­ity, value propo­si­tions, pro­mo­tions, self ser­vice, call cen­tres and prod­uct avail­abil­ity.’

Na­tional Trans­mis­sion Net­work

Huawei Ma­rine has been con­tracted to help fin­ish build­ing the K685 mil­lion NTN with Dat­aco, dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017, al­though a sub­stan­tial part of the NTN has al­ready been built.

‘The pro­ject has been kept to sched­ule,’ Bud­de­comm an­a­lyst Henry Lan­caster tells Busi­ness Ad­van­tage PNG.

‘Be­cause of the unique ter­rain, though, there has had to be ad­di­tional work, in­clud­ing the pro­vi­sion of satel­lite con­nec­tiv­ity.’

Mo­bile tele­phony pen­e­tra­tion in PNG ex­tends to about 90 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

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