Unggai enjoys better Internet access

Weekender
BUSINESS

BY MALUM NALU
IT’S A beautiful afternoon here in the high Unggai Mmountains of Eastern Highlands as I stand here, mesmerised, looking down to the panorama of the Goroka Valley.
To my left is Daulo and the Asaro Valley, behind me is Lufa and the towering Mt Michael, with Kainantu beyond.
The wind blows through the montane forests behind me, as the trees sway in the wind, sentinels of the Unggai Mountains as they have been for hundreds of year.
A tall Israeli-made Internet tower, which provides Internet to the Unggai Primary School and community, stands above the forests.
Local entrepreneur Wilson Unua, whom I got to know at university many years ago, plans to turn this idyllic Eastern Highlands’ paradise into a tourist attraction.
It’s Friday, Aug 23, and I’m here in the Unggai Mountains after a busy morning attending the opening of the FPDA Haus in Goroka by Prime Minister James Marape.
Unua’s company ComSat has three such towers in Goroka, which supplies Internet to the Eastern Highlands’ capital, and this one here in Unggai.
His biggest client is the University of Goroka, among several others.
The main distribution tower is Goroka is at the Bowling Club, with fibre optic connection from PNG DataCo, which provides Internet to the people.
The others are at the Goroka Hospital and the University of Goroka.
“We have got good corporate clients, like the University of Goroka, coffee exporters, construction companies, mining people,” Unua says.
“We can also provide service to clients in the rural areas through VSAT, so we are not restricted to only here in Goroka.”
Unua is a graduate biologist, however, has a passion for IT which took him into the Internet business.
“ComSat is a small company based in Goroka,” he says.
“We started in 2016 and we got into ISP at the beginning of 2017.
“ComSat is two years old now, but we’ve got good clientele and subscribers, which augurs well for us going forward.
“We can connect the rural people via our tower in the Unggai Mountains, but where there’s no line-of-sight, the option that we go for is satellite.
“We are already working on our first VSAT, which is in the Purari headwaters (Gulf).”

Move aside Digicel and Bmobile!
He is also famed as a former Lae-based rugby league player, DJ known as “DJ Wheels” and now runs the Goroka Bowling Club.
“We use this spot to broadcast to our subscribers in town (Goroka) and the surrounding areas as well,” Unua tells me.
“So we have high-speed Internet here, which means that you can take your pictures and video, and upload them at the same time.
“We are based in Goroka town, but out of the main town area, we have certain spots within Daulo, Unggai-Bena and Lufa districts which are not connected because of the geography.
“The line-of-sight is not there, so we put up this tower to help us broadcast our network to subscribers out of Goroka town itself.
“As you can see, the tower here has no power, so we are using solar energy to run radios and everything here.
“So from here, we have a good line-of-sight to supply Internet to our clients in Goroka, Asaro, Lufa and parts of Henganofi as well.”
The Unggai tower we are at is “Tower No. 4” for the Goroka-based Internet service provider.
“This tower connects clients who are outside of Goroka,” Unua adds.
“Because of the geography, we have so many mountains which block the line-of-sight, so we use this tower to connect our Internet clients outside of Goroka.
“From this elevation, we are able to reach most parts of Daulo, Goroka, Unggai-Bena, Lufa and parts of Henganofi.
“Where we are standing is more than 2000m above sea level, and our tower is about 33m, so you can imagine the reach that we have from this elevation.
“This tower is serving its purpose very well.”
Apart from his Internet business, Unua is also venturing into tourism, with ambitious plans to turn this scenic part of Unggai into a getaway spot to be known as Treetops Bar & Grill.
“We’re going to start slowly, with a little bar and a grill,” he says.
“This is a lovely place which commands 360-degree views of the Asaro Valley, Goroka Valley, Unggai-Bena, Lufa and as far as Henganofi and Kainantu.
“We have unspoiled forests which can offer birdwatching.
“I plan to build forest bungalows for visitors.”
Unua is a firm believer in the Internet, tourism and agriculture to take Eastern Highlands into the future.
“As you can see, policies of the new Marape Government are all driven by IT, agriculture and tourism,” he says.

“IT is the way forward.
“With the new Coral Sea Cable to be completed by the end of this year, we can expect a big drop in Internet rates, which will transform this country ‘big time’.”
Wilson Unua is certainly ‘taking back PNG’, starting with Eastern Highlands, as a trailblazing entrepreneur.

 

Wilson Unua at his Internet tower in the Unggai Mountains. He has four such Israeli-made towers and supplies Internet services to Goroka and surrounding districts,including rural schools. Wilson plans to turn this mountainous area with panoramic views of the Goroka Valley into a tourism attraction.
The author at Unggai Primary School, one of the few fortunate rural schools in PNG to enjoy internet services.
Highway snaking through breathtaking scenery in rustic Unggai.
A typical country road linking rural communities

Poetry corner

Paradise of a million parts are one

By Angela Kagl, Grade 7 – Huonville Primary School, Lae

Dawn from the peak of Owen Stanley Range, sleeping its beautiful wings gently on the great Papuan Peninsula, snowy and blistering cold from the misty Mount Wilhelm, wedding Mount Giluwe and the mountains of the green highlands to the beautiful coastlines marked with great, white sandy beaches.

Naturally dark guinea hairs of the misty mountains of the highlands jiggling the costal frizzy haired, mixed with naturally blond and red haired in the beautiful islands. Surprisingly with a population of more than 8 million heads, strangely born to more than 800 languages with hundred customs and cultures defined the uniqueness of the diversity. Unique and untouched environment is home to much biodiversity where birds of paradise are more colourful than the precious gold.

A million lives lost through a cry of tribal war, poison “pasin kastom”, or through the course of sharing Gospel with the common goal of unity.

Paradise of grey and crystal blue python rivers and creeks slowly pushing, nagging, armed with crystals, mineral stones, logs, fertile soils among the green mountains, hills and fertile valleys, looking for a common place to rest.
Millions pushing, nagging, struggling and fighting in the million journeys with one common goal at heart is to feel a taste of paradise in the deep blue Pacific Ocean where the ocean is overflowing with rich tuna, a million schools of fish and marine biodiversity at its best.

A million forefathers and beloved mothers walked the boundaries, mainly subsistence farming, lives were lost only to have a meal for a lonely night. Breaking boundaries open doors to friendship, mateship and cross-culture marriages. Hiri trade along the Papuan coastlines and barter systems were very simple exchanges, but were treasured at heart, and valued more than a million kina. The trade and systems compounded a hundred cultures and customs to a zero-boundary. That we called “Paradise of million Parts Are One.”

Million journeys led by our great forefathers and some surviving national fathers fought for a common goal – unity – that defines oneness and that we call “Paradise of million Parts Are One – Papua New Guinea”

Water PNG is a Million Parts Are One organisation where employees come from 800 languages, hundred tribes, cultures and customs, united in the true spirit by a common goal which is to “Serve” “Paradise of million Parts Are One – Papua New Guinea”

Every employee and his/her beloved family are a true family of Water PNG, and contributing meaningfully to the unity of the “Paradise of million Parts Are One – Papua New Guinea”

Every customer is a true Papua New Guinean being part of the great million parts are one organisation, Water PNG, to service others “Paradise of million Parts Are One – Papua New Guinea”

As a daughter of an employee, I am standing here proudly to thank the Million Parts Are One Company, Water PNG, for this celebration involving us the family in the special celebration to remember and acknowledge those who have made this possible.

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