Anyone that owns a mobile phone, and knows how to use it, is aware that access to ICT – information and communications technology – is now almost a necessity. It is hard to imagine life without it.
Mobile technology contributes to social development, provides access to education, financial services, a wealth of knowledge and generally provides a platform for a better quality of life.
According to the industry body GSMA which represents the interests of mobile operators around the world, by the end of 2016 65 per cent of the world’s population had a mobile subscription. That’s 4.8 billion unique users. It is a market that accounts for 4.4 per cent of the world’s GDP. And it is climbing.
By 2020 73 per cent of the earth’s population will have a mobile subscription – a market that will be worth US$4.2 trillion.
In Papua New Guinea the uptake of mobile communication has been equally phenomenal, but by world standards still below par.
By the end of 2015 the number of people connected in PNG was 3.3 million, climbing 5.64 per cent in three years. It is still less than half the population. 78 per cent of this market is prepaid, a market that has had slightly negative growth over three years.
The prepaid market has plateaued because mobile operators have wrung every remaining toea out of people with an already low level of disposable income.
Those with access to mobile broadband, being those that can afford it, accounted for 19 per cent of the market – a growth rate of 33.49 per cent over three years – a telling statistic as people want and adopt faster, more reliable access.
It is also an example of the Pareto Priniciple – business makes 80 per cent of its money out of the top 20 per cent of its clientele. So you know where the focus will be.
The future belongs to those who can afford to pay for better services, and invariably those people will be urban dwellers.
The problem with Papua New Guinea is that outside the capital city – and other cities, towns and developments such as mines – it is not commercially viable to run and maintain a mobile communication service, the same trend we see with other services.
It has really been left up to various levels of government to fill these non-profitable gaps for those less fortunate, as others with resources and education head to the cities and towns in search of better services, job opportunities and generally a better quality of life.
It is a situation that is not unique to PNG, but rather part of a global phenomena of rapid urbanisation. Already more than half the world’s people live in cities and by the end of this decade it’s estimated that three out of five people will live not only in cities, but in megacities – metropolises with over 10 million people.
We have reached a point where “the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer.”
THE CHOICE IS IN YOUR HANDS
There are three mobile operators in PNG and each has its own unique range of benefits for consumers. It will depend on whether you live in the city or rural areas as to how you best maximise the benefits.
If you live in an area only serviced by Digicel, for instance, then there is not much point thinking about subscribing to a bmobile data plan.
If ,however, you live in Port Moresby or Lae, then you have enormous choice of very good services. The secret here is to use the services and plans available – or be used.
Your choice of plan will depend on your individual circumstance. However, your preferred choice of handsets is essential to your ability to make best use of the services available.
Here are some tips to buying a handset that will help you get the best out of what’s available, and save you money as well.
- Only buy within your budget. It is nice to have the latest Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone but there are plenty of other very good manufacturers on the market at only a fraction of the cost. Shop around.
- Do you actually need a smartphone? Can you afford the data charges that will inevitably come with owning and operating a smartphone? If you only need to make calls and text, then you do not need a smartphone. Nokia recently realised there is still a market that only demands a cheap, fashionable and modern phone for making calls and sending texts. They launched the Nokia 3310, taking the iconic shape of the original with a new user interface with a 2.4-inch polarised and curved screen window. So it is no longer cool to have a smartphone for appearance sake. The real smartness comes in your choice of handset.
- If you are buying a smartphone then you should consider dual-SIM. Having two SIM cards (say Digicel and bmobile) does not necessarily mean having to own and manage two different phones, or having to constantly swap SIM cards. The problem is solved by owning a smartphone with dual-SIM capacity. And the advantages are obvious. Australia’s PC World identifies four very distinct advantages in owning a dual-SIM phone.
- First of all you will have ready access to the two networks, and will be able to milk the value of both – for instance, one could have a great data plan and the other great value for voice calls;
- Personal v Business. Having a dual-SIM smartphone allows you to manage your business on one card and plan, and your personal life on the other card. This is also useful and simple if you need to account for phone usage;
- If you are going overseas you can keep one SIM port for calls back home and make the other port available for a local SIM card, hence avoiding global roaming charges;
- Emergencies – if one network drops out, or even if you are travelling within PNG and one network is stronger than the other than you have a back-up plan already locked and loaded.
- Do not buy a phone that is locked to one of the networks. It may sound like a good plan, but you are sacrificing your freedom to switch networks.
- Finally, protect your investment. Buy a cover that will protect your handset in the inevitable case that you drop it. Also avoid using your new investment in public places, especially markets and PMVs where someone less honest will want to deprive you of your hard-earned and rightful property.