The National, Friday July 20th, 2012
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta says the launch of the K5.6 million information “super highway” in Lae last night should serve as an example of how the incoming government should do business.
He said when launching the project at the Lae International Hotel that the government clearly had the tools to provide critical national infrastructure and affordable, reliable and efficient services, and more so when the Sovereign Wealth Fund was in place.
The “super highway” will provide the link to allow the expansion of high-speed internet, data and voice services to private and corporate customers across the nation.
It fills in what is known as the “missing link” in PNG’s telecommunications system between Lae and Madang, where the international submarine cable comes ashore.
Sir Mekere said the activation of this cable was part of a transformation of the social and economic landscape of PNG – the telecommunications revolution.
“The take-up of mobile phones and internet services since then has revolutionised our personal and business interactions,” he said.
“Our relationship with the rest of the world and to each other will never be the same owing to our new and broad-based ease of access to knowledge and ideas, to money and resources, to new organisations and interest groups, to different cultures.”
“The telecommunications revolution, most visible in the form of mobile phone towers, is spreading into some of the most remote parts of the country.”
Sir Mekere said revamping the national telecommunications network would make a significant contribution to national economic development and to improved delivery of services, especially to rural and remote areas.
“The National Transmission Network (NTN) is essentially an integrated fibre optics, satellite and microwave network to be controlled by a new company called DataCo, which was recently set up as part of the NTN plan,” Sir Mekere said.
“DataCo will own and operate the network as a wholesale provider of telecommunications.”
It will consist of:
l Telikom’s existing domestic microwave, satellite and fibre optics network, with the international gateways (Port Moresby and Lae) and optical fibre submarine cable international links;
l PNG Power’s fibre optics ground wire throughout PNG (to which Madang link is part) and;
l The government’s interest in a 750km optical fibre cable being built to support the PNG LNG project.
“Other elements will include upgrades of existing telecommunications infrastructure and investment in new infrastructure,” Sir Mekere said.
“A feasibility study into how DataCo will manage the system has already begun.
“DataCo will be required to meet community service obligations, for which a policy is being developed, and funding may be needed to cover the CSO-driven extension of telecommunications services into areas of the country that may not be profitable.
“I am hopeful that the incoming government will see the benefit of providing some of the total K500 million required through the Sovereign Wealth Fund, through a funding cell created to recapitalise and rehabilitate SOEs, a concept I developed and recommended to the government with exactly this sort of application in mind.”