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PNG internet services looking at era of rapid improvement

Rural communicationOxford Business Group | Edited extracts

INCREASED investment in telecommunications infrastructure is set to improve Papua New Guinea’s internet capacity, extending coverage across the country and paving the way to roll out 4G LTE (long-term evolution) services.

With low fixed-line internet and telephone penetration rates last year – at 9.4% and 1.9%, respectively – connectivity in PNG is mainly being driven by mobile phone ownership, with penetration rates standing at 49% earlier this year.

However, despite mobile coverage of 80%, some services are limited due to slower operating speeds, with many rural regions only having access to 2G.

In a bid to increase coverage and penetration rates, two of PNG’s telecommunications service providers, Telekom PNG and Digicel, aim to begin offering LTE services by the end of the year.

In mid-March, fixed-line operator Telikom PNG announced plans to spend K400 million on broadening its network infrastructure. Much of this investment will be directed towards advanced wireless connectivity.

“The company is expecting to roll out a 4G network by the end of 2016, with some 256 LTE-compatible base stations scheduled for deployment in major towns in PNG,” Telikom CEO Michael Donnelly told local media earlier this year.

Telikom’s investment is expected to enable the company to meet consumer demands as well as provide a higher quality internet and communications network for end users.

Satellite dishMeanwhile, international telecommunications provider Digicel is also stepping up infrastructure investment to expand coverage and connection speeds.

At the end of May, Digicel said it would broaden its 3G coverage to at least 80% of the population by 2020 and expand mobile penetration to 60% of the accessible client base as part of its commitment to bring digital communications and data services to PNG’s remote areas.

These new investments in infrastructure and service provision will build on the K2 billion Digicel has already put into the PNG market.

Both companies are hoping that take up of new services will rise sharply as infrastructure installation in PNG is expensive due to difficult terrain, with much of the population living outside the country’s urban centres.

For its part, Digicel is also planning to support the use of solar power for the purposes of recharging where access to electricity is otherwise limited, according to Michael Murphy, Asia-Pacific CEO.

While efforts to boost infrastructure are expected to provide broader coverage, a recent study commissioned by PNG’s National Research Institute (NRI) and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics revealed that many citizens were unable to afford internet subscriptions, a factor contributing to the country’s low penetration rates.

Frequent outages in internet connectivity have also stoked concerns over the reliability of access for both citizens and the business community.

To boost penetration rates, the report suggested that service providers could reduce their subscription fees while adopting a more holistic approach to develop the sector. 

To this end, in May Jimmy Miringtoro, minister for communication and information technology, announced PNG’s plan to set up an internet exchange point to reduce end user costs and boost services.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Isah Brown

To make an investment in internet services is likely to make communications better and is very essential to grow the economy of the country.

Jane Brown

I think they should have to make the innovation in the present technology to provide the better user experience to their subscribers.

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