Kumul Submarine Cable Network System 1 providing needed bandwidth
Fixed-line teledensity in Papua New Guinea has seen little change over the past two decades.
Progress in the country’s telecom sector has come primarily from mobile networks, where accessibility has expanded considerably in recent years, with population coverage increasing from less than 3% in 2006 to more than 90% by early 2021. The two MNOs operate networks offering services based on GSM, 3G and LTE, depending on location. GSM is prevalent in many rural and remote areas, while 3G and LTE are centred more on urban areas.
The Kacific-1 satellite, launched in December 2019, has greatly improved the reach of telecom services in PNG.
Network deployment costs are high, partly due to the relatively low subscriber base, the impervious terrain, and the high proportion of the population living in rural areas. As a result, fixed telecom infrastructure is almost non-existent outside urban centres, leaving most of the population un-serviced. PNG is the Pacific region’s largest poorly developed telecom market, with only around 22% of its nearly 8.8 million people connected to the internet.
The existing submarine cable infrastructure is no longer adequate to serve the country’s needs. Low international capacity has meant that internet services are expensive and slow. Internet access has improved, however, with the Coral Sea Cable System which came online in 2019. The cable links PNG to the Solomon Islands and Australia (landing at Sydney).
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year, the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.Key Developments:
Companies mentioned in this report include:
- Kumul Submarine Cable Network System 1 is lit;
- Digitec builds out a greenfield LTE network;
- PNG rolls out Get Connected’ training with the ITU to boost digital transformation;
- Australian government attempts to block Chinese companies from acquiring Digicel’s Pacific operations;
- Kacific-1 satellite services are made available;
- Report update includes an assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.
Kumul Telikom, Telikom PNG, PNG DataCo, Bmobile (Vodafone), Digicel, Kacific Broadband Satellites