The eyes in the skies: new satellite technology hits Papua New Guinea


A slew of new satellite technologies promise a future of faster connections and lower prices, especially in Papua New Guinea’s most remote regions. Tony Jordan previews what’s ahead.

Ship-borne satellite receivers have proved a game-changer for those operating in PNG’s coastal waters. Credit: TE (PNG)

Papua New Guinea’s resource companies have long relied on satellite communication for mission-critical operations, but the cost of the sophisticated systems has kept it out of reach of consumers and smaller companies.

“Customers are now talking about needing terabytes of data, not gigabytes”

That’s quickly changing, with advancements in satellite technology driving down costs and making satellite systems such as SpaceX’s Starlink and Eutelsat’s OneWeb easier to deploy, says Robbie Huxley, Managing Director of local technology services provider TE (PNG) Ltd.


Starlink received a five-year licence to operate in PNG in January 2024.

“Starlink is a game-changer, because everybody will be able to have a fairly affordable package, and the equipment is small, so you don’t have to be a trained technician to install it,” Huxley tells Business Advantage PNG. “Removing that cost barrier for the market is massive.”

“It should also allow the telcos to bring down the price to the user, particularly in the remote regions,” he adds. “PNG Dataco has done a pretty good job with their fibre cable rollout, but so much of PNG is still not going to be on fibre.”

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Huxley says there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for PNG, so the company now sells a mix of services – on C-band (used for mission-critical tasks like air navigation), Ku-band and Ka-band – that can also be knitted together to create an overall network, providing higher speeds and greater resiliency and redundancy.

Such networks can also act as a backstop for traffic if fibre-based connections are disrupted.


Infrastructure provider PNG Dataco, which also uses satellite for redundancy, says it’s also considering partnering with next-generation services like OneWeb and Starlink.

Meanwhile, retail telcos such as Digicel and Vodafone use satellite as a complement to their existing networks.

“Satellites only provide a certain amount of bandwidth, but customers are now talking about needing terabytes of data, not gigabytes,” says Pradeep Lal, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Papua New Guinea. “Satellites can complement operations, but aren’t sufficient for customers on their own.”

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