Information and communications technology in Papua New Guinea: a sector profile


A profile of the information and communications technology sector in Papua New Guinea, including mobile phone companies, data providers and ICT service providers.

Industry snapshot

PNG is the largest telecommunications market in the Pacific but also one of the most expensive.

Currently, PNG is serviced by two lower capacity international gateways: the PPC-1 cable out of Madang and the APNG-2 cable which connects Port Moresby to Sydney.

But that changed at the end of 2019 with the establishment of the Coral Sea Cable System, which will run between Sydney and Port Moresby, and the domestic Kumul Submarine Cable Network. The Coral Sea Cable System will increase digital capacity by a thousand times, from 21 gigabytes to 20 terabytes, and it is anticipated that data costs will fall sharply.

Already, the state-owned Kumul Telikom Holdings announced in July 2019 a reduction of the prices of data bundles by between 70 and 80 per cent.

Industry regulator, the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), has also flagged a reduction in the wholesale price of internet data from K1030.18 per mbps (megabytes per second) to K341.12 per mbps once the Coral Sea Cable is commissioned.

With the advent of greater competition, mobile phone usage has expanded from less than 3 per cent of the population in 2006 to 29.7 per cent market penetration (unique subscribers) in 2019; 48 per cent of Papua New Guineans had a mobile subscription in 2018, up from 13.8 per cent a decade earlier.

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While some remote areas are still only serviced by 2G, 85 per cent of the market is now covered by 3G or, increasingly, 4G networks.

In addition to fixed line and mobile towers, redundancy and remote telecommunications and data services in PNG are also provided via low-orbit satellite.

In September 2020, Fiji’s Amalgamated Telecom Holdings signalled its intent to enter PNG’s telecommunications market, supported by a US$25 million cornerstone investment from the Asian Development Bank. The roll-out, delayed due to COVID-19, is expected to be complete in 2022.

In October 2021, Australia’s largest telco Telstra announced a deal to acquire Digicel Pacific (which includes Digicel PNG), for US$1.6 billion, with financial assistance from the Australian government. The deal, which requires regulatory and government approvals, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

Regulatory environment

A licence from NICTA is required to provide ICT services in PNG.

NICTA is the sole converged regulator and licensing authority of the ICT industry in PNG under the National Information and Communications Technology Act 2009.

The sector also falls under the Cybercrime Code Act 2016.

Key players

PNG’s telecommunications sector is dominated by two players: state-owned Kumul Telikom Holdings (KTH) and Irish-owned Digicel, which competes directly with KTH subsidiary Telikom PNG in data services, ICT services, broadband internet and television. A third entity, bmobile, competes in the mobile phone space and has been 100 per cent owned by the PNG Government since November 2016.

Since 2019, it has been government policy to merge Telikom PNG and Bmobile into a single entity and partially privatise it.

Exact figures of market share are not readily available but it generally accepted that Digicel dominates the market in the mobile space.

Telikom PNG is the key provider of fixed-line phone calls in PNG, as well as most fixed internet services. It also owns TV broadcaster EMTV. With bmobile and PNG Dataco, Telikom forms a family of state-owned ICT enterprises merged into KTH in 2018. These report into the state-owned Kumul Consolidated Holdings.

Digicel, which launched in PNG in 2007, has invested K2.9 billion in PNG. It has 1100 towers, of which only 300 are on the electricity grid. Fuel from helicopter is dropped every week. The company claims 92 per cent market share.

KTH subsidiary PNG DataCo is responsible for internet infrastructure and wholesale telecommunications services. It has commissioned the Kumul Submarine Cable Network, which connects the 14 coastal provinces of PNG. The System Two network connects Port Moresby to Madang, via Alotau, Popondetta and Lae. PNG DataCo has a partnership with PNG Power to use its transmission poles and towers.

ICT services

While many larger businesses in PNG still outsource at least part of their ICT support to companies based overseas, especially in neighbouring Australia, PNG’s ICT services sector is increasingly sophisticated and now also includes software developers.

A number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide IT services to business and consumers, including established players such as Datec and Daltron. A full list is available on the NICTA website.

PNG also has a growing network of tech professionals and SMEs, exemplified by the recent creation of the PNG ICT Cluster.

Key contacts

Recent publications

What else would you like to know?

This sector file is a living document created as a service to our subscribers. It is updated from time to time, as new information comes to hand.

Is there something else you’d like to know about this sector? Is there new information we haven’t included? Let us know in the Comment section below, or email and we’ll look into it.

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