Meet A-Tel: Papua New Guinea’s new mobile phone company


The mobile phone company set to become Papua New Guinea’s fourth mobile phone provider says it hopes to begin operations in the third quarter of 2014, targeting areas of the country where there is currently no coverage.

Awal's Muhammed Khan with PNG Communications and Information Minister Jimmy Moringtoro

Awal’s Muhammed Khan with PNG Communications and Information Minister Jimmy Moringtoro

Awal Telecommunications of Saudi Arabia was awarded individual Network Gateway Services, Application and Network licences in a deal worth more than $US260 million (K790 million) at a low-key event in Dubai early last month. The licences run for 10 years.

PNG’s mobile phone market is currently dominated by Digicel PNG, with bmobile and Telikom PNG’s Citifon service competing in some areas.

Asked how the company won the contract, Gulam Mahmud, Vice-President of Awal, told Business Advantage PNG: ‘We met the requirements asked of us and approval was granted.

‘Our board members came to Port Moresby last September and applied to the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) for the licence.’

Awal is a subsidiary of Awal International Holdings, and operates fixed line and mobile services in Africa, where it also has three oil and gas licences. A company newsletter reported last year an interest in developing oil and gas interests in PNG, specifically on Manus Island. Globally, the company has 6,300 staff and a total of 22,000 contractors.

Introducing A-Tel

Mahmud says the name it will use in PNG is ‘A-Tel’.

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‘We are looking at areas where there is currently no coverage. New people, new customers’.

Describing the Port Moresby market as ‘saturated’, Mahmud says the company is interested in developing coverage in rural and regional parts of PNG.

‘We want to improve mobile services and connectivity in PNG,’ he said. ‘There is a lack of communications in many parts of PNG, call costs and connectivity are reasonably high compared to other countries.

‘We are a member of the International Telecommunications Union, so we are aware of the mountaineous nature of PNG. At present, we are working with vendors and software manufacturers, like Ericsson and Siemens. Our researchers are also working out where to put in towers.

‘In other countries, towers have a reach of about 20kms, but in PNG that might be only 8 to 10 kms.’


He also says Awal is not seeking to take away existing customers from Digicel or bmobile.

‘We take a different proposition. If people like our service, some will switch. If not, they will stay. We are looking at areas where there is currently no coverage. New people, new customers.’

Mahmud says the company will not be launching coverage until it can provide access to at least 50,000 customers. Putting in infrastructure across the country will take two-to-three years, he adds.

Awal’s entry into PNG will also create jobs.

‘I expect, over time, we will employ 800 to 1200, plus contract vendors and business partners and if you take all those into account, that might reach 5000,’ Mahmud told Business Advantage PNG.


  1. luke william says

    Digicel has very good network system or internet connections. Its fast very fast but the problem is, the internet or MB consumption rate is very fast and very expensive call rates offered. I suggest it wold be better if the company put a careful consideration on the above things mentioned.

  2. Digicel is providing the best communication services, but currently it takes advantage on many customers it has and now starts to increase the call rates which is not good because due to availability of its network coverage every one have access to use phone. By doing so it is indirectly robing people and making them become very poor. So why not the company make some adjustments on that side

  3. Michael A Parila says

    Its very good to have too many competitors here in PNG. Being a monopoly like Digicel dominated whole of PNG and its rate charges skyrocket where people find it very hard to catch up with it so, its good to compete in order to reduce the rates down. there are more demands avaliable but we fall short of service provider. so do come and start up your business in PNG.

  4. Michael A Parila says

    its very good to have too many competitors in PNG. being the monopoly makes its price skyrocket and is very hard to catch up with it so, we want more competitors like Green Com and some others to do their business in PNG.
    Demand is too high in PNG, we want suppliers. we have only three telecommunication providers in PNG while one is touring whole of PNG while these twos are cantered around in one or two provinces. that one person makes a lot of profit by charging very high rate per second. there fore, do come and start up your business here in PNG.

  5. jesse nasu says

    please digicel has become a monopoly and too costy so you guy need to come over.

  6. Jonathan Dege says

    As a mobile phone user in PNG, we customers are beneficeries so we wanted to benefit from the best service of telecomunication in PNG, the service that values for our money. We give you bussiness, we want best service out of it.
    We still have problem with the net-work coverage in some parts of PNG.

    With that, im calling for AWAL Telecomunication Holding to contact me immediately and we go for a deal in regarding to my mountain.

    My contact details: 72905735 (digicel)

    mregarding my mountain for i lling or texing. Many tex massage

  7. Alfred Iaita says

    Anyone out there who can say whay Bemobile vodafone is up to now. Mi pla stap lo bush na like save sampla latest…

  8. Who do we contact for Tower erections here in PNG?Pls adv asap.

  9. jerrynicholas says

    thank you,

    more competition will certainly reduce phone time and money spent, good quality service is what we want, good on our government, at least the economics and accountants are running the country well.

    forecasting and planning the real effects off life.

    thanks prime mister P.O

    keep up the best work

  10. Hello,
    I recently learnt about A-Tell as a new telecommunication in Papua New Guinea. Yes, Digicel is currently dominating the telecomms coverage in PNG. If A-Tell starts up in PNG, the competition will increase resulting in high cost of telecomms charges decreasing.
    All the best and please compete for the benefit of the telecomms customers.

  11. Alfred Iaita says

    Even there is room for one or two more cellphone companies to get in here…

    We need video calls, we need to plot thieves, sms marketing, pda fone surveys etc,…

    There is more cashflow in png, but u gotta gauge it to get it…

  12. It good to have competition in our country, right now Digicel is the leader in terms of communication services ti offers, but the rate they offer is far to expensive, I mean a K3.00 flex card is work about 3 – 4 minutes and then its gone..Its good to have a new communication company in place so that there can be a balance in terms of competition

  13. Please we need some competition, bemobile can’t compete with Digicel. Vodafone backed away. Don’t let Digicel run the show..Somebody put Digicel in their place & teach them some respect

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