PNG’s internet connectivity gets big boost


At a time when the folding of the Pacific Fibre project has shocked New Zealand, Papua New Guinea has cause to celebrate: after a two year wait, Port Moresby is about to be connected to the country’s 10 gig fibre-optic gateway in Madang.<!--more-->

This week the ambitious Pacific Fibre project, which had plans of connecting Australia, New Zealand and the United States with an undersea cable announced it was folding because of its failure to raise more than NZ$450 million for the project. The venture had several investors and pre-signed cornerstone clients but the project plans have now been grounded.

But over in Port Moresby, Papua New Guineans are welcoming enhanced connectivity thanks to a 750-km cable that will piggyback the ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline. Industry watchers say the new connection is likely to reduce internet rates appreciably.

PNG was earlier plugged into the 6900 kilometre long fibreoptic ‘Pipe Pacific Cable 1’ that runs between Sydney and Guam since October 2010. But until last week, the Madang gateway was not connected to the rest of the nation. In January last year the government permitted the Independent Public Business Corporation, an independent company that holds the majority of state-owned commercial assets including 14.9% of the PNG LNG project, funding to buy a $35million, 41.67% share in a fibre-optic cable connecting Madang to Port Moresby.

The new cable connectivity has the potential for PNG’s mobile service providers to pass on the savings gained from cheaper gateway rates to its customers, though the country still has to sort out its issues of connectivity with its smaller population centres away from main cities.