New cable to link PNG and Aus­tralia

A high-speed telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions cable will de­liver ben­e­fits to PNG busi­nesses. David James re­ports.

Paradise - - Strictly Business -

The prime min­is­ters of Pa­pua New Guinea and Aus­tralia, Peter O’Neill and Mal­colm Turn­bull, have an­nounced they will be work­ing to­gether to lay a new un­der­sea high-speed telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions cable be­tween Port Moresby and Aus­tralia.

The move is ex­pected to con­trib­ute to closer eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion be­tween the two neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Aus­tralia will pro­vide the ma­jor­ity of fund­ing, with a fi­nan­cial co-con­tri­bu­tion from PNG.

An un­der­sea cable to re­place the ex­ist­ing age­ing APNG-2 cable at Port Moresby’s Ela Beach has been needed for some time, both to deal with PNG’s grow­ing in­ter­net traf­fic and to pro­vide re­dun­dancy for PNG’s only other in­ter­na­tional gate­way, PPC-1, sited in Madang.

The Aus­tralian govern­ment has also been hav­ing close dis­cus­sions with the Solomon Is­lands govern­ment about lay­ing a sim­i­lar un­der­sea cable from Aus­tralia to Ho­niara.

Jonathan Pryke, direc­tor of the Lowy In­sti­tute’s Pa­cific Is­lands pro­gram, es­ti­mates that the cost is likely to be about $US100 mil­lion (PGK321 mil­lion) for a 3000-kilo­me­tre cable be­tween Port Moresby and Sydney.

He says the move is a “very wel­come devel­op­ment” that will be a big pos­i­tive for busi­ness in PNG. “It was get­ting to the point where the pri­vate sec­tor was talk­ing about chip­ping in them­selves. The pri­vate sec­tor must be happy to fi­nally see this ac­tu­ally get done. There has been dis­cus­sion about this cable for so long.”

Pryke says it is not just the cable that is needed; the do­mes­tic in­fra­struc­ture also needs to be im­proved. “It will pro­vide a start­ing point, but the band­width to the cap­i­tal city will be some­thing not seen be­fore.

“The [APNG-2] cable in Port Moresby has about 5 per cent of the ca­pac­ity of a mod­ern cable. And the de­mand is cer­tainly there.” ■

The pri­vate sec­tor must be happy to fi­nally see this get done. There has been dis­cus­sion about this cable for so long.

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