ATH launches new PNG broadband telecommunications network

Kalpana Lal

Vodafone PNG is now live following the rollout of its 4G+ mobile broadband network.

Fiji’s Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATH) and Vodafone Fiji were the primary investors in the new network construction project, which represents the largest Fijian investment in PNG and is part of ATH’s ambitions for wider telecommunication networks in the South Pacific.

Vodafone Fiji has managed the project rollout through the pandemic, and will operate the mobile broadband business under the Vodafone brand.

In a statement to shareholders, ATH said “the PNG market remains grossly underserved, resulting in large swathes of the population remaining unconnected and losing out on the benefits of a connected society.

“This is where ATH through Vodafone PNG sees huge potential in providing much needed stimulus to bridge the digital divide in PNG, and in doing so being an enabler of digital transformation,” the statement continues.

In response to the launch, PNG Prime Minister James Marape said, “Recently much has been said about the lack of benefits cascading to end-users, especially with falling wholesale data prices and therefore, Vodafone PNG’s entry into the market has been eagerly awaited and couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The launch marks a significant milestone in what is expected to be the stimulus needed to spur increased competition, resulting in a more liberalized ICT sector with affordable access to connectivity, increased market penetration and greater choice for consumers and businesses. We will invest to the tune of $3 billion Kina into PNG, which is a testament to Vodafone’s commitment to improving the telecommunications infrastructure and connecting the unconnected”, said Kalpana Lal, Chairperson of Vodafone PNG.

Regional Chief Executive Pradeep Lal said, “We are launching with just over 500 base stations, covering Port Moresby, LAE, Madang, Hagan and Goroka, which covers approximately 50% of the population. However, the journey does not stop here. In the next 8 months, Vodafone PNG intends to have 800 sites live, progressively expanding coverage to 22 provinces.” Within the next 12-18 months, Lal hopes to have 1200 sites on air, covering more than 90% of PNG’s population.

This investment is part of ATH’s Pacific expansion strategy which already includes telecommunications and JCT businesses in Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Samoa, American Samoa and Cook Islands.

Pradeep Lal

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