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Solar cells eyed to power remote areas

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 28, 2010) – The PNG government is set to roll out its multi million dollar national broadband network, opening up the prospect of high speed broadband connections for homes, schools and businesses.

The cost to the government to launch the NBN is US$60 million.

Communications analyst Paul Budde has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program says the nature of Papua New Guinea's remote villages provides some unique challenges, but also opportunities, in the broadband roll-out.

"One of the problems already of course is the fact that most of these villages don't have power," he said.

"But nowadays what you could actually do, with solar cells, you could bring some power into the community and then link that with telecommunications, and...what you do actually is provide electricty facilities, but at the same time, because of the communications that's involved in developing that, you can use that also for the distribution of a mobile signal."

The broadband network is expected to piggy back on the PNG LNG fibre optic cable, providing mobile communications towers linked by fibre-optic cable.

Mr Budde says doing it in that manner would allow the government to provide links to hospital and schools as part of the process.

"If you link the telecommunications policies with clear social and economic policies, then you can use a trans-sector policy, where you start delivering services that are not necessarily all based on internet or telephone access," he said.

"That then makes the whole situation, first of all far more economically affordable, and secondly people that are not necessarily using the internet could actually be using the same service."

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