Progress on Papua New Guinea’s national broadband network


Construction of Papua New Guinea’s national broadband network is progressing, with major milestones set be reached by mid 2015, according to technology consultant Sundar Ramamurthy, who is assisting the PNG government’s Independent Public Business Corporation on the project.

Sundar Ramamurthy

Invoc’s Sundar Ramamurthy

Ramamurthy told delegates at this week’s Papua New Guinea Advantage investment summit that the National Transmission Network (NTN), which aims to connect major population centres on PNG’s mainland via a cross-country network of fiber optic cables, was progressing to the timelines agreed.

‘The aim is to create a reliable, high speed, transparent and low cost backbone network for domestic and international access,’ Ramamurthy told delegates.

A significant part of the project is the completion of a fiber optic link along the length of the PNG LNG gas project’s 700 km pipeline, from the Hides gas field in the Highlands to the PNG LNG plant near Port Moresby, and then on to the capital.

Ramamurthy advised that the Hides-to-LNG plant link was expected to be commissioned in early 2014, with the additional 50km to Port Moresby scheduled for completion a month earlier. Meanwhile, the link between the Yonki power station in Morobe Province and Mount Hagen in PNG’s Highlands is expected to be ready by mid 2015. Additional cable connecting Wabag and Mendi will then be completed a few months after this.

The final connection between Port Moresby and the PPC-1 cable which connects PNG to the world wide web via Guam is expected to be complete in late 2014. The jointly commissioned cable will also allow the Solomon Islands to connect to the PCC-1 international cable near Alotau, giving PNG’s neighbour a fast connection to the worldwide web for the first time.

At that stage, the game will change for PNG, with connections to more remote locations such the New Guinea islands, Alotau, Wewak, Vanimo and Daru possible.

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The NTN will also mean PNG will no longer have to rely on the APNG2 cable which currently connects Port Moresby to Sydney, Australia, although the IPBC is considering additional international connections to the worldwide web to ensure the NTN has redundancy.

As Business Advantage PNG has reported previously, the completed NTN will be run by  PNG Dataco, which will wholesale bandwidth to network license holders such as Digicel, Telikom PNG, BeMobile and ISPs. It will be a ‘carrier to the carriers’—with the goal of encouraging greater retail competition and allowing new entrants (PNG citizens and SMEs), while increasing bandwidth and reducing the cost of access for consumers and business.

Ramamurthy said that the current K300 to K500 (US$120 to US$200) monthly cost of ‘normal family use’ of the internet in PNG was far beyond the means of most Papua New Guineans. If costs could fall dramatically, there would be a tremendous boost to the already growing economy of PNG.

A completed NTN, he said, would enable PNG to host call centres, enable the movement of large data files and foster the online delivery of private and public sector services, including e-commerce.