PNG: Internet still ‘very expensive’ after Australia builds underwater fibre optic cable

By Marian Faa on Pacific Beat with Various Presenters

Internet users in Papua New Guinea say data is still ‘very expensive’ one year after the installation of a 4,700 kilometre fibre optic cable between Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

PNG’s independent regulator, the National Information and Communications Technology Authority, has been reviewing the price of wholesale internet since the Coral Sea Cable was completed in December 2019.

Dr Amanda Watson, a digital communications expert from the Australian National University, said there had been no significant change in the price and speed of internet since the cable was installed.

“There has also been quite a lot of excitement and many statements made … about potential for increased speeds, decreased prices, and also improved reliability,” she said.

“And so the question is whether the cable is actually able to deliver on those various promises.”

University of Papua New Guinea student Nancy Paglau said her data costs had actually increased in the past year.

But DataCo, the government-owned company responsible for managing and distributing wholesale internet in PNG, said the prices had reduced.

Director Paul Komboi said it was up to retailers like Digicel, Bmobile and Telikom to pass on the savings to their customers.

“If you’re not getting a reduction in pricing at the retail level, customer level, then obviously, it is the middleman that is pushing the issue there,” Mr Komboi said.

The ABC approached major mobile internet retailers in Papua New Guinea for comment.

Bmobile, the only company to respond, said it reduced its data pricing drastically in July 2019, before the Coral Sea Cable was installed.

This article first featured under the Pacific Beat newsfeed on the ABC Radio Australia website.
Link: https://www.abc.net.au/radio-australia/programs/pacificbeat/

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