By DALE LUMA
THE Telikom-bmobile merger is expected to be completed at the end of the month, Telikom PNG Ltd acting chief executive officer Amos Tepi says.
Tepi said the merger was about 85 per cent complete.
“We are just looking at the regulatory and legal aspects and once that is over, we are going over the line so we should meet the deadline,” he said.
“It’s all progressing and about 85 per cent completed.”
Communications and Information Technology minister Timothy Masiu previously stated the merging of bmobile and Telikom PNG into a single retail operator was critical as it would improve access in the country.
“Legally speaking, merging bmobile and Telikom is a challenge because of the cross-collateralisation arrangements in place on assets,” Masiu said.
“Technically speaking, the integration of two SOE (state owned enterprise) mobile networks also has cost implications.”
Masiu highlighted that taking into account the K1.6 billion loan taken from China’s Exim Bank to expand the network coverage and coupled with the recent asset audits undertaken, the Government was now ready to consider the option of investing in the merger – before making any further consideration as to the future of the telecommunication state owned enterprise.
“After considering a wide range of reform options, merging is the best decision for the business and this will pave a way forward to a liberalised market.”
Five years ago, the Government invested in a national broadband project that provided Telikom with a converged 4G communications network.
Subsequently, bmobile’s phased upgrade, completed this year, saw bmobile’s RediSIM users enjoying 4GLTE network capabilities.
This was part of the integral efforts by Kumul Telikom Holdings Limited (KTHL) to achieve the merger and consolidation of the mobile business as part of the Government’s telecommunication reform directives to have a single mobile network.
It is the last important piece in KTHL’s efforts to provide competent, affordable and competitive mobile communications.
State-owned enterprise reforms introduced by the Government in October 2019, provided a number of key business components that included greater governance and accountability.
It also demanded a greater effort in the delivery of core SOE objectives: the provision of accessible, affordable and reliable services while developing an appropriate return on investment.
The KTHL mobile network integration was the first major investment in its infrastructure undertaken by the company over the last three years.
The National Executive Council approved the merger as part of the reform and work began in 2018.
By DALE LUMA