The National – Monday, December 20, 2010
THE government will launch a US$60 million (K157 million) national broadband network (NBN) next year by piggy backing on the PNG LNG fibre optic cable.
The NBN initiative, announced by State Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare last Friday, represented probably the largest ever telecommunication project undertaken in PNG.
The technology involves the laying of fibre optic cable to enable Papua New Guinea homes, schools and businesses to access broadband speeds much faster than many people experience today with their high speed wireless and satellite technologies.
Somare said in a media statement that the National Executive Council had agreed to spend this money for 41.68% share in the PNG LNG fibre optic cable. Other partners in this proposal include PNG LNG project operator Esso Highlands (33.33%), Oil Search (16.67%) and the Southern Highlands provincial government (8.33%).
It also meant setting up a new company to design, build and operate the new NBN which, he said, could be ready for service by the end of 2012.
“The national broadband network will greatly improve our telecommunications capabilities and bring internet access to a much wider customer base throughout the country,” Somare said.
The NEC has given the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) the nod to borrow US$35 million (K92 million) to fund the shareholding and a further US$25 million (K65 million) to integrate the PNG LNG fibre cable into current infrastructure and to build additional linkages to complete the NBN.
“The ability to piggy back the PNG LNG project has provided this country with an ideal opportunity to implement a national broadband strategy at a substantially lower cost than would otherwise be possible.
“It will bring the nation’s telecommunications capabilities up to speed with networks that exist or are being planned in other developed and developing countries in the Asian region,” he said.
Somare said that IPBC would commission a detailed implementation study by July 1 that which would:
*Identify assets to be included in the integrated broadband backbone network, including assets presently owned by Telikom PNG and PNG Power;
*Formulate a plan for the rollout of the new backbone data communications infrastructure to enhance competition and accessibility;
*Consider the appropriate model for ownership and operation of the assets and the longer term roles of IPBC, Telikom PNG and/or a new data company that would focus on the broadband infrastructure;
*Formulate a plan to secure equity and operational participation in the data company through various public-private partnership and joint venture models; and
*Consider all related competition and regulatory issues and compliance with broad government policy objectives envisaged under the medium-term development plan, national ICT policy and broadband objectives.