Vodafone is currently rolling out a Greenfield network in PNG which will soon be operational making the company the third telecommunications (telco) operator in the PNG market. Vodafone Fiji chief commercial director Ronald Prasad, when presenting the telco’s view on the PNG market, said there was huge market potential for another operator, Business reporter DALE LUMA writes
Why Papua New Guinea?
Prasad said PNG was an emerging market with huge potential as the country continues its journey to transform into a modern nation.
“From a Telco/ICT point of view, PNG ticks all the right boxes,” he said
“It has a large population base with a very young population with a medium age of 22.5 years.
“The current statistics on the ground indicate that only 34 per cent of the people have access to mobile phones.
“Internet penetration is sitting quit low at 15 per cent and social media penetration at about 11 per cent.
“These provide so many opportunities for another operator to come in and take advantage of these low penetration rates in the market.
“Today, there are two main telco operators, three if we count DataCo, few ICT companies and a few new niche ISP players in the market.
“Given the large population, low internet penetration, low smart phone penetration, these provide the opportune time and large amount of room for a fourth operator to come in to benefit PNG.
“With the Coral Sea fibre cable now operational, it provides a whole new dimension for connectivity to the world and immense opportunity in this space.
“The telcos and other infrastructure providers will continue to invest in building back-hold infrastructure and various transmission mediums will see the telco and ICT space transform.”
What does another operator in PNG mean?
“It means more competition, overall improvement in product portfolios resulting better service delivery, competitive pricing and of course new ways of doing things,” Prasad said.
“The existing providers, bmobile, Telikom PNG, DataCo and Digicel PNG have done well in terms of expanding the infrastructure and investing in it and now with Vodafone coming onto the ground, you should expect a lot more competition in this area.
“I think at this stage, if you look at PNG to a large extent, it will most likely be able to leap frog and adopt some of the latest technologies completely bypassing legacy technologies.”
“From where we see, there’s anticipation that there’s going to be a widespread adoption of new technologies and services with these services coming in,” Prasad said.
“It will open up a new area of opportunity in terms of cloud, internet and social media-based
businesses, the rise of micro and small enterprises and of course greater adoption of cloud-based services.
“The other area where there is a lot of opportunity is the mobile money (m-commerce) and m-commerce.
“With the increased use of smartphone and internet penetration, it becomes easy to rollout app-based services such as government online services, government’s digital transformation and even things like contact.
“Recently, with the impact that Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused in some of the more developed markets where smart phone penetration is quite high, you will see a lot of app-based solutions that are being rolled out and these are very easy and cost effective to do.
“If you look at the internet penetration and GDP (gross domestic product) of a country, there’s a direct correlation between internet penetration and GDP.
“There were studies done that indicate that 10 per cent increase in internet penetration usually results in a one point increase in GDP.
“The cloud has also become quite mature in the last 12 months or so and obviously there are various players that provide cloud-based solutions especially in the infrastructure platform and the software space.
“After almost 24 months of operating in a Covid world, we see the use of many cloud-based solutions that have been adopted, a lot of people in the more emerging developed markets are working from home quite effectively during the peak of the Covid.
“Business should seriously start considering the infrastructure as a service, as a way to transform their business.
“It is quite important for business to look at this in Papua New Guinea because there is some great work that is being done to connect Papua New Guinea to the outside world.
“One of the key prerequisites for an operational cloud model is to have access to decent connectivity and with the work other operators including DataCo are doing in PNG, it provides a great platform and opportunity for businesses to now start seriously looking at some of the cloud options.
“What this means is that it gives businesses a lot of flexibility in terms of scaling up or down resources and benefits the business.”
Things business should consider as part of their strategy include:
- IMPACT social media is having on business;
- CYBER security; and,
- RISE of cloud mobility and m-commerce in line with what Vodafone is bring to the market.
Prasad said there were exciting times ahead for PNG as technology would continue to improve and connectivity would get better, robust and resilient.