Pt2: ICT Workshop – UPNG, 23/01/08

By Emmanuel Narokobi

Workshop Programme: ict-workshop-programme.doc

One of the disappointing aspects of the workshop was that there was no representation or apologies sent by the government. No one from the Ministry of Communications turned up and even worse no one from Telikom turned up as well. To be fair though PANGTEL was well represented and ICCC attended. Both very important players in the ICT policy development. Although not directly government but an adviser to the government, was Noel Mobiha. Mr. Mobiha is in charge of setting up the government TV station which is now aimed at starting by September this year.

During question time after Session 4, Peter Aitsi of PNG FM asked Mr. Mobiha if the government would be making the updated policy public for everyone to read. Mr. Mobiha advised that ‘it was not his call’ and so all he could do was promise to take across our concerns and issues. This is unfortunate in addition to the fact that no one from the Ministry or Telikom turned up. For starters it gives us the impression that:

  • They don’t care what we think and ‘they will shove it down our throats whether we like it or not’ (as passionately stated by Graham Ainui, CEO of the Rural Industries Council). In other words there is no participation and transparency in the development of the ICT policy.
  • Telikom again continues to show that they are NOT ‘always there’. It looks unprofessional and it allows everyone to continuously critise them when it could have been a great opportunity for them to tell us what they are up to. To be honest I truly believe that Mr. Loko has done a tremendous job up to date considering what he has to face. Telikom is a huge ship to turn and dealing with the old guard and trying to re-train 52 years of operating one way to a new dynamic company is not an easy task. So it would have been a great opportunity for Telikom to come and tell us the issues they face and what they are doing to overcome them and what targets and goals they have set to achieve in the short term, medium term and long term.
  • Digicel is the only one out there making things happen. Digicel was profusely thanked by the speakers and public (and by myself too, for giving us work). But people have to understand that it takes more then one player to grow the whole industry. The CEO of Digicel made the effort to be there and he himself stated that they needed Telikom as much as Telikom needed them to make competition work for the benefit of PNG.

So in the absence of Telikom and the Ministry’s presence, CEO of Digicel, Kevin O’Sullivan explained their views. O’Sullivan repeatedly stated about how ‘passionate’ they were about their jobs and as a marketing tool and as plain business sense just by being there he already had won over the crowd. His take was that:

  • Competition had already proven to be beneficial, not just for them but definitely also for Telikom. So for the whole industry it was clear that competition was working,
  • A competitive climate had to be maintained,
  • Competition had to be enabled across the board,
  • They had to have and be able to maintain an effective network. In this sense it was important to them that they own their own international gateway separate from Telikom, so that they could ensure 1) coverage, 2) affordability, 3) Reliability, 4) a state of the art network and 5) interconnection. He said that Digicel operated in 27 other countries around the world and the only way they can control pricing and quality is by owning their own international gateway as they do in their other operations around the world.
  • competition and their operations would have a direct effect on improving social and and economic standards of living in PNG.

So in short the ‘Right Framework’ had to be in place so there was a level playing field for all players. And on the issue of interconnection, Mr O’Sullivan stated again that they were ready and just waiting for Telikom. However it looks like it will be more towards the end of this month and NOT the 25th as stated in the media. Also it will initially start in major centres only like POM, Lae and Hagen.

The big thing I took away from O’Sullivan’s presentation was the issue of each company having a separate international gateway. At present it appears to me that Telikom has it’s Tiare gateway and Digicel is running it’s own gateway. Some months back my thinking was that to protect Telikom (being our PNG company) all companies operating telephony and data services in PNG should just go through Tiare so that revenue can be returned to our government. However after listening to the arguments on quality and effective competition it’s starting to make sense that each service provider is allowed to have their own international gateway. I will explain this a bit more in my next post on the views from the ISP’s.

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Read Also: ICT in PNG: Who the Hell is Doing What in PNG?

6 thoughts on “Pt2: ICT Workshop – UPNG, 23/01/08

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