TELECOMS EXTEND REACH IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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Digicel, bemobile service in remote rural areas

By Eric Tapakau PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 3, 2010) –The mobile syndrome is well and truly alive in Papua New Guinea with much of the population and geography covered by both mobile telecommunication companies, bemobile and Digicel.

Majority Papua New Guinea owned bemobile (through superannuation funds Nambawan Super Ltd and National Superannuation Fund and Telikom PNG) is slowly reaching into most of the rural areas accessible by roads and the number of subscribers is also increasing as the network reaches out to cover more locations.

For bemobile customers are already enjoying the benefits of having affordable and cheaper and more competitive rates after the recent completion of the entity’s major rollout program.

Chief executive officer Stuart Kelly said bemobile provided coverage in all major populated areas including Port Moresby, Hagen, Lae and Madang.

Its recent network rollout has increased coverage in the Southern Highlands Province providing continuous road coverage between Mt Hagen and Lae.

Many new towers have been installed in both Central and Goroka providing increased coverage to many new communities.

bemobile also continues to increase its coverage to many remote and rural areas providing state of the art voice and data services. "The expansion will also include extended coverage, increased capacity and the most up to date technology for additional value added service," Mr Kelly said. bemobile is PNG’s own mobile network and employs about 300 Papua New Guineans.

The company’s entry into the neighbouring Solomon Islands is also moving faster as the mobile telco looks for sites to build its towers. Head of bemobile in the Solomon Islands Julien Coustaury told the Solomon Star newspaper recently that bemobile in the next few weeks and months will be scouting for sites to build its towers. Mr Coustaury revealed this after arriving in the country on Tuesday with his team to start ground work.

"A land acquisition team had been set up already to oversee the acquiring of sites for towers," Mr Coustaury said.

He said they were ready to buy, rent and lease land sites around the country.

"We will be needing land therefore we are ready to acquire land from identified spots," he said.

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