Friday 22 April, 2022
Vodafone PNG last night officially launched its state-of-the-art network at a corporate launch event held at APEC Haus, with retail outlets starting operations from today. Chief guest, Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Sam Basil 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.
She also commended the hard work and perseverance of the Vodafone staff. “I congratulate and applaud the Vodafone PNG staff for such an exceptional launch and appreciate the guidance and support of the Vodafone Fiji team. Led by Regional CEO, Pradeep Lal, the team has achieved such a remarkable feat”,
PNG’s Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil officiated the launch welcoming Vodafone PNG and anticipating better mobile communication products and services. “The entry of Vodafone PNG strengthens our government’s aim to increase connectivity and digital inclusion. PNG Government’s ICT policy is focused on digital transformation, through the use of digital technologies to improve governance and progress the Government’s digital economy agenda. It is the Government’s policy objective to promote sustainable competition in the information and communications technology sector and Vodafone PNG’s entrance will ensure affordability, accessibility and connectivity through increased market penetration. We believe Vodafone PNG’s entry as the third mobile operator will rejuvenate competition in the market, aid in connecting more Papua New Guineans and explore the possibilities of a connected PNG”.
Regional Chief Executive Pradeep Lal said, “We have built a brand-new network with the latest technology, offering Papua New Guineans 3G/4G+ services and a differentiated network experience. We are launching today 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 to 18 months, Lal hopes to have 1200 sites on air, covering more than 90% of PNG’s population.
He said, “We have received great support and feedback from everyone, including the Government, corporate sector and the people of PNG, and we are really excited to provide Papua New Guineans with more choice and a greater level of affordability when it comes to keeping in touch and staying connected.”
Shedding light on a recent study by Deloitte, Lal added “that if developing countries could bridge the gap in internet penetration to reach the levels developed economies enjoy today, they would experience large increases in GDP growth, increased productivity and improvements in health conditions and education opportunities, particularly for its rural and remote communities.
A well-developed, robust and affordable telecommunications infrastructure are ecosystem is critical to supporting the development of other industries and sectors and bridging the digital divide is bound to have a profound impact on people’s lives and the PNG economy”.
PNG has a low market penetration with 37% mobile phone and 20% internet penetration, with approximately 1 million customers actively using social media. Lal believes that given the low market penetration levels in PNG, the rate of rapid change and increased reliance on digitalization and connectivity, Telecommunications will remain an important industry for at least the next 100 years and one that will have a long-lasting and transformational legacy. He said, “This is one industry that has the potential to significantly transform lives through access to online information, education, telemedicine, financial inclusion, eCommerce and economic inclusion.
We are being viewed as the breath of fresh air needed to stimulate and shake up the Telecommunications sector. For a long time, the people of PNG have complained about the high cost of telecommunications and data and the question of affordability and reach have almost become rhetoric. As people’s reliance on connectivity becomes ever so crucial, access to affordable and reliable connectivity is no longer a luxury, but an essential service. In addition to congratulating Vodafone PNG and Fiji team for reaching this mammoth achievement, he noted “ despite the many challenges that were encountered over the two years, the efforts and resilience our team demonstrated are a testament to the notion that Together We Can. We are here to change the narrative and the people of PNG have a lot to look forward to”, said Lal.