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By Bonney Bonsella

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 13) – Telikom Papua New Guinea board chairman Gerea Aopi yesterday signed a PGK16.9 million [US$5.5 million] agreement with Telstra Australia and Telecom New Zealand to buy 50 percent of a retired Pacific Rim West cable that runs between Sydney, Australia and Guam.

Telikom expects the purchase to add 15 percent growth to its current annual revenue of PGK360 million [US$125 million], although the revenue estimate to be generated from the investment is still being determined.

The newly acquired submarine cable replaces a 25-year-old submarine cable that ran between Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and Cairns, Australia that was vandalized late last year causing a communication blackout between Papua New Guinea and the world.

The new cable will come into service by the final quarter of this year.

It was due to be decommissioned last year but Telikom is optimistic it has 15 years life remaining.

Under the currently negotiated agreement, Telikom will own 50 percent of the cable asset, 81 percent of the cable capacity and will control its "affairs" and "destiny."

Aopi said the submarine cable was cheaper and has a higher capacity than a satellite.

It will service Papua New Guinea’s telecommunication industry until 2013 when Telikom will switch to a new link planned to begin operation in two years, he said.

It was a cheap form of communication for business for data and voice and both business and the general public could expect considerable improvement in a number of areas.

Director and former Telikom chief engineer Clark Kuliniasi said the new cable had a capacity 34 times greater than the existing cable and increased bandwidth.

It has much faster data speed and capacity to provide broadband nationwide and significantly reduce congestion, he said.

It will provide significantly improved links to the outside world.

Aopi said the acquisition represented Telikom’s investment in telecommunications for the benefit of business and its commitment to customer service.

Aopi also welcomed two new executives to the Telikom management yesterday.

Lucas Michael is the new human resources manager while former Steamships Trading corporate lawyer Ere Kariko is Telikom’s new legal counsel and company secretary.

Aopi described both men as good professionals and qualified Papua New Guineans who will help bring Telikom to a competitive entity.

April 14, 2006

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