Increased investments in telecommunications infrastructure are set to improve Papua New Guinea’s internet capacity, extending coverage across the country and paving the way to roll out 4G LTE services.
Two of the biggest telecommunications services providers, Telikom PNG and Digicel aim to bring LTE services to Papua New Guinea in a bid to increase the network coverage and penetration rates of the country.
Telikom PNG announced it would spend some K400m on broadening its network infrastructure. Much of this investment will be directed towards installing hard infrastructure required for advanced wireless connectivity, according to Michael Donnelly, CEO of Telikom.
“The company is expected 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 Papua New Guinea.”
Meanwhile, Digicel is also stepping up infrastructure investments to expand coverage and connection speeds. It announced the broadening of its 3G coverage to at least 80% of the population by 2020, and expand mobile penetration to 60% of the accessible client base.
Digicel is also planning to support the use of solar power for the purpose of recharging where access to electricity is otherwise limited, according to Michael Murphy, CEO of Digicel Asia-Pacific. All this is part of its commitment to bring digital communications and data services to PNG’s remote areas.
Whilst efforts to boost infrastructure are expected to provide broader coverage, a recent study conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the NRI, revealed that many citizens were unable to afford internet subscriptions, which is a factor contributing to PNG’s low penetration rates.
The report suggested that to boost the penetration rates of Papua New Guinea, service providers could reduce their subscription fees and adopt a more holistic approach to develop the sector. This would include strengthening the industry’s regulatory framework, reviewing current wholesale and retail policies with a view to increasing market competition, and assessing the state’s role in the telecommunication sector.
Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Jimmy Miringtoro, announced PNGs plan to set up an internet exchange point (IEP) to reduce end user costs and boost services.
The facility will enable different networks exchange internet traffic via shared switching infrastructure, routing domestic and regional internet traffic locally, rather than through overseas networks.
PNG DataCo, a wholesale telecommunications company providing infrastructure and services to retailers was set up by the government in 2014. This company aims to link the country by fibre optic and reduce end user costs by facilitating competition in the sector.