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Papua New Guinea - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

February 2021 | 92 pages | ID: P456A7DB9258EN
BuddeComm

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Kumul Submarine Cable Network System 1 providing needed bandwidth

Fixed-line teledensity in Papua New Guinea has seen little change over the past two decades. Progress in the country's telecom sector has come primarily from mobile networks, where accessibility has expanded considerably in recent years, with population coverage increasing from less than 3% in 2006 to more than 90% by early 2021. The two MNOs operate networks offering services based on GSM, 3G and LTE, depending on location. GSM is prevalent in many rural and remote areas, while 3G and LTE are centred more on urban areas.

The Kacific-1 satellite, launched in December 2019, has greatly improved the reach of telecom services in PNG.

Network deployment costs are high, partly 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 non-existent outside urban centres, leaving most of the population un-serviced. PNG is the Pacific region's largest poorly developed telecom market, with only around 22% of its nearly 8.8 million people connected to the internet.

The existing submarine cable infrastructure is no longer adequate to serve the country's needs. Low international capacity has meant that internet services are expensive and slow. Internet access has improved, however, with the Coral Sea Cable System which came online in 2019. The cable links PNG to the Solomon Islands and Australia (landing at Sydney).

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year, the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Key developments:
  • Kumul Submarine Cable Network System 1 is lit;
  • Digitec builds out a greenfield LTE network;
  • PNG rolls out Get Connected' training with the ITU to boost digital transformation;
  • Australian government attempts to block Chinese companies from acquiring Digicel's Pacific operations;
  • Kacific-1 satellite services are made available;
  • Report update includes an assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report include:

Kumul Telikom, Telikom PNG, PNG DataCo, Bmobile (Vodafone), Digicel, Kacific Broadband Satellites
1 KEY STATISTICS

2 COUNTRY OVERVIEW

3 COVID-19 AND ITS IMPACT ON THE TELECOM SECTOR

3.1 Economic considerations and responses
3.2 Mobile devices
3.3 Subscribers
3.4 Infrastructure
3.5 Impact on PNG

4 TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET

4.1 Market analysis

5 REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT

5.1 Historical overview
5.2 Regulatory authority
5.3 Fixed-line developments
5.4 Mobile market developments

6 MOBILE MARKET

6.1 Market analysis
6.2 Mobile statistics
6.3 Mobile infrastructure
6.4 Mobile broadband
6.5 Major mobile operators
6.6 Mobile content and applications
6.7 Mobile handsets

7 FIXED-LINE BROADBAND MARKET

7.1 Introduction and statistical overview
7.2 Internet Exchange Point (IXP)

8 DIGITAL ECONOMY

9 FIXED NETWORK OPERATORS

9.1 Kumul Telikom Holdings Company

10 TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE

10.1 National telecom network
10.2 National Transmission Network (NTN)

11 APPENDIX HISTORIC DATA

12 GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS

13 RELATED REPORTS

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1 Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Papua New Guinea 2020 (e)
Table 2 Evolution of GDP in PNG 2014 2022
Table 3 Telecom sector development goals 2010; 2015; 2020; 2025; 2030
Table 4 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2011 - 2026
Table 5 Percentage of mobile connections by technology 2018; 2025
Table 6 Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2012 2026
Table 7 Mobile operators' market share of subscribers 2014; 2016; June 2018
Table 8 Digitec group financial data - 2019 - 2020
Table 9 Digicel PNG mobile subscribers 2014 2018
Table 10 Internet users and penetration 2008 2020
Table 11 Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2011 2026
Table 12 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2011 2026
Table 13 International bandwidth 2010 2017
Table 14 Historic Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1995 2008
Table 15 Historic - International bandwidth 2004 2009
Table 16 Historic - Digicel PNG and Digicel Group revenue 6M 2015; 2016
Table 17 Historic - Bmobile mobile subscribers 2014 2016
Chart 1 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2011 - 2026
Chart 2 Percentage of mobile connections by technology 2018; 2025
Chart 3 Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2012 2026
Chart 4 Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2011 2026
Chart 5 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2011 2026
Exhibit 1 Map of Papua New Guinea
Exhibit 2 Privatisation of Telikom PNG historic overview
Exhibit 3 Papua New Guinea - Mobile operators and technology used
Exhibit 4 Kumul Telikom (Telecom) Holdings
Exhibit 5 VSAT connects remote Manus Islands
Exhibit 6 Major submarine cables with landing points in Papua New Guinea 2020
Exhibit 7 The laying of APNG-2 a recycled submarine cable

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 over 80% by early 2016.

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 49% by early 2016. This remains low by international standards, and though there remains considerable room for growth this could be stymied by the latent difficulties within the market, including the high cost of deploying infrastructure, the relatively low income base among potential subscribers, and the geographical dispersal of the population. As a result of these conditions PNG remains 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. Mobile coverage into 2016 is extensive, though most rural areas still have only 2G services.

Nevertheless, mobile broadband is proving far more successful than fixed-line broadband, and both Telikom and Digicel are planning to provide LTE services by the end of 2016. The number of mobile broadband users is expected to continue to grow strongly as these operators expand their 3G and LTE networks in the coming years.

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 is managed by the state-owned PNG DataCo, which acts as wholesaler.

Given the underdeveloped telecom services, PNG’s telecom market has enormous growth potential. Despite the challenges, the country offers many investment opportunities. An increasing number of Papuans are embracing the digital age, particularly the younger generation, and mobile phones in particular are becoming a more important source of social interaction.



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