Mobile and Internet Costs in Papua New Guinea

In 2007 when Digicel entered the PNG Market, Papua New Guineans realised, how much in unnecessary charges they had been paying for mobile and internet services.

Until 2007, the mobile phone monopoly run by a Government subsidiary, BeeMobile  Communications forced customers to pay K125 for a mobile start up kit which contained a  SIM card and K100 in phone credits.

Digicel slashed costs and flooded the market with up to a million handsets selling at K30 a piece with free SIM cards.

Over the last 15  years,  the implementation of government legislation and regulations have drastically improved the digital landscape in Papua New Guinea.

2017 Research conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology puts the figure of internet users in PNG at  960,000.

There are more than 3 million mobile subscribers which means at least four of  10 people own a mobile phone.

Despite 15 years of legislative and regulatory reforms and general improvements, the country still lags behind in ICT infrastructure and the cost of services.

Statistically speaking, Papua New Guineans continue to pay among the highest mobile data rates in the Asia Pacific region.

Three of PNG’s top mobile service providers; Digicel,  BMobile Vodafone,  and Telikom are the six most expensive service providers in the Asia Pacific.

Our closest neighbors in Indonesia, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia,  are among the top six countries that have the cheapest rates.

Ten years on and Papua New Guineans are on the brink of another phase of development.

The government’s budget policy for 2018 highlights that a new high-speed internet cable funded by the Australian Government will be laid from  Australia to PNG. It will take 24 months to complete. This is expected to take care of PNG’s ballooning ICT demands over the next 25 years.

The submarine cable will complement the investments to mobile telephone infrastructure to improve the availability of 3G and 4G services to more Papua New Guineans.

Through community-based programs, NICTA, also has plans to support the expansion of access to high-speed broadband internet connectivity to selected communities.

As Papua New Guinea prepares to host a series of APEC meetings in 2018,  the country is under a lot of pressure to live up to expectations as an exemplary player in the region despite its ICT challenges.

Bringing costs down will trigger, improvements in large business activity and SMEs.  It is an area of the economy that desperately needs a boost with government help.

Scott Waide

is the Lae Bureau Chief and began his career with EMTV in 1997 as a News and Sports Reporter and Anchor and has been a media professional for over 19 years. Having previously worked as a Producer and Researcher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Port Moresby Bureau, he is a recipient of multiple awards including the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Prize in 2005 in Iran for best news feature, the Pacific Island News Association Award and the Divine Word University Media Freedom Award.

Scott Waide

One thought on “Mobile and Internet Costs in Papua New Guinea

  • 20/12/2017 at 17:23
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    I used to work for Digicel PNG between 2015 to 2017 as a voice specialist. The drop in price or fiber optic link is not gonna make the service any bigger or better. People and Businesses in PNG will continue to suffer unless Kumul Telikom revamp their communication services on NGN and NICTA regulates the licenses/spectrum to protect the country’s asset from internal & external attacks. PNG is not getting the quality of service they deserve for the amount they are already paying and it is a rip-off.

    The ICT sector in PNG is open for the foreign companies to improve the services and coverage; but in PNG the foreign company has destroyed your existing network rather develop their own network. The price war was just created to poach the customers from state-owned communication company (anti-competitive) and retain their own existing customers who are running away. The bigger is not really bigger by servicing but by acquiring! Communication in all the developed countries are dominated by state-owned only and it will always be that way. May God save PNG from the modern cannibals!

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