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