By Alexander Rheeney (5th December 2013, Post Courier)
Mobile phone company bemobile plans to rollout an ambitious program to expand its market share in Papua New Guinea, company executives said yesterday.
Chief Executive Officer Sundar Ramamurthy, board chairman Andrew Johnson and the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) managing director Wasantha Kumarasiri are banking on new customer-focused innovative products to change the fortunes of the company.
“Being able to think about what innovation we have in PNG, I think that is going to be a key indicator for us. The innovation of products and services (and) how we deliver them, I think that would be a key differentiator,” said Mr. Ramamurthy.
The Government owned mobile phone company has been unable to compete effectively with the Digicel Group since the former’s arrival in late 2007, consequently leading to the Caribbean-based carrier growing its market share in PNG.
Without giving away too much information on the company’s plans, Mr. Johnson said data services and wireless telephony are two services that have allot of potential due to the growing popularity of smart phones amongst Papua New Guineans. “I think also in the PNG context particularly with the affordability of smart phones, the mobile phone is actually an even more important device here than in the other markets, where there is a large proportion of people having computers at home and fixed line services. The smart phone is the absolute critical devise in the country for people who can communicate with each other to do commerce, to do their banking (and) to do emails.”
The company’s failure to build its own infrastructure in the various Provinces after getting a license from the Government was another factor which led to its demise. However the company was determined to dig itself out from its past failures in recent years according to Mr. Kumarasiri.
“People still remember how exorbitant charges were, so with IPBC being the major shareholder today in bemobile, I want to tell the public (that) on behlaf of the shareholders of bemobile today I want to say sorry to those customers who still have negative feelings towards bemobile. I ask for their understanding and forgiveness,” he said.
A telecommunications expert, who refused to be identified, said the injection of K220 million into the company in September this year should provide the neccessary capital to enable it to kick start its expansion program.