Papua New Guinea - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics
Papua New Guinea banks on its National Transmission Network
Network deployment costs are high in PNG 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 inexistent outside urban centres, leaving most of the population unserviced. With fixed teledensity having seen little change over the past two decades, progress in telecommunications has come primarily from mobile networks, where accessibility has expanded from less than 3% population coverage in 2006 to almost 80% in 2015.
This impressive growth was triggered by the start of mobile competition in 2007. When it entered the market, competing mobile operator Digicel brought mobile services to previously unserviced areas and at the same time slashed prices. The result was a substantial increase in mobile penetration from 1.6% in 2006 to 35% in 2015. Yet, this is still an extremely low penetration rate, even for a developing country, and barriers to uptake remain. PNG is still one of the least affordable mobile markets in the Pacific.
Despite the opening of the market to competition, internet access is expensive in PNG and far beyond the means of most of the population. Throughout much of the country, internet access is simply unavailable. Despite the increase in mobile coverage, most rural areas still have only 2G services.
Nevertheless, mobile broadband is proving far more successful than fixed-line broadband, having reached an estimated 9% penetration. The number of mobile broadband users is expected to grow strongly as Digicel continues to expand its 3G and 4G networks.
To overcome the country's communication shortcomings, the government is deploying a National Transmission Network, which is expected to boost bandwidth and encourage market competition. It will be managed by state-owned PNG DataCo, which will act as wholesaler.
With a population of more than 7 million people and underdeveloped telecom services, PNG's telecom market has enormous growth potential. Despite the challenges, the country offers many investment opportunities. More and more Papuans are embracing the digital age, particularly the younger generation. Mobile phones are becoming an important source of social interaction, particularly since the launch of Digicel's 3G and 4G networks.
Key telecom parameters 2012 - 2014
Sector | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 (e)
Subscribers to telecoms services (million):
Fixed-line telephony | 0.14 | 0.14 | 0.14
Mobile telephony | 2.06 | 2.22 | 2.50
PNGs state-owned incumbent Telikom is being restructured to focus on retail services and its network will be transferred to a new state-owned company, DataCo
With the telecom industry moving from vertical to horizontal integration, any service provider in PNG will be able to lease bandwidth at non-discriminatory wholesale prices from DataCo,
PNGs National Transmission Network will connect to the rest of the world via the PPC1 submarine cable landing in Madang, which offers far more bandwidth than the APNG-2 cable landing near Port Moresby.
Digicel PNG has contracted capacity on O3b's high throughput satellite fleet to expand its 3G/4G network.
Submarine cable network ICN2, connecting PNG to Vanuatu, is scheduled to be Ready-For-Service in June 2016.
PNGs telecom regulator, NICTA, is moving ahead with regulatory changes including SIM registration and a proposal that envisages mandatory sharing of mobile network infrastructure.
Companies mentioned in this report
Telikom PNG, PNG DataCo, Digicel, bmobile, Vodafone, Citifon, Greencom, A-Tel, EMTV, HiTRON, Digicel Play, Click TV, Global Internet, Online South Pacific, DataNets, Datec, PACTEL, Facebook, Telstra, Optus, NZ Telecom, Kacific Broadband Satellite, O3b Networks.
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