Thank you A.S for seeking views from other interested and knowledgeable PNGeans to comment on a very crucial development tool (telecommunications).
That is commendable because, we feel we're talking to and discussing with someone who will be intrumental in making important decisons that will affect the telecommunications landscape of PNG.
Firstly, let me begin my congratulating Telikom PNG for the important decision to upgrade the International Highway (Fiber cable) out of Papua New Guinea to rest of the world. The news that, this upgrade will result in providing 70 times the current bandwidth is in deed a welcome news for everyone in PNG.
The current Satellite based International links should relegate to a backup medium when the upgraded medium is successfully installed, tested and commissioned.
While discussing on international links, let me put to you that Telikom has made an economically unsound decision by putting most of its traffic through Reach Global (Telstra). Their rate is very high and expensive. It is not so attractive when compared to Optus's offer. This unsound "(back office scheme
strategy - appears to be) must be reviewed. The public would love to hear your answer on the rationale that Telikom Board based to come up with this clearly flawed decision.
Secondly, let me emphatically state here that, the level of customer service and focus on the customers is appallingly low and very unsatisfactory. The monopolistic market is the only saving grace for Telikom PNG to survive up to this far. Otherwise, it would have gone bust and ceased to exist in a
competitive and customer driven market. Let me go a step further by suggesting a few remedial actions that can be looked at to arrest this problem.
A) Reorganize and install intelligent and customer forced managers at the customer facing business Departments with clear Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for them to achieve. State clearly that the maximum turn around time for service line installation and fault rectification is less than "one week". The current 6 months to even one year is pathetically unacceptable. For your information, most of our South Pacific neighboring countries have the following turn around times.
Australia = 24 Hours
New Zealand = 24 Hours
Fiji = 3 Days
This exercise should be complemented by undertaking a major "local loop” infrstructure reconstruction and maintenance. This is where most of the faults occur.
B) Man the fault line number (014) with courteous and customer focused personnel who must keep the customer informed daily on the progress of their service line through their contact telephone numbers or email addresses. Currently, this is non-existent. The customer needs to know and feel that he/she is treated and given the attention that deserves.
C) The mountaintop landowner problem is a very sickening and frustrating problem. Any sane and grown up individual in PNG knows that, those kind of land is really no-man's land. Telikom's installations poses zero environmental problems that would warrant ten different landowners to put up their dry faces in Telikom Rumana. Addionally, less that 20 square meters of arid land is used.
Therefore, Telikom should protect its installations by erecting electric fences around their mountain top installations. This should be provided by solar energy and remotely controlled to kill any moving thing that passes close to the site. To complement, employ fully armed locals as static guards to man the sites. Any deaths to trespassers will NOT be compensated by
Telikom. Make this a law through a cabinet submission from the Communications Minister. The mountaintops should be paid out in full for a say 50-year period.
D) Pacific Mobile Communications (your 100% owned subsidiary) needs a massive make over. The network needs massive improvement. The appalling customer service needs the right staff and technical expertise that the ever ballooning customer base deserves.
E) Digitize the microwave link to Rabaul from Lae. The current satellite based trunks are impeding developments in the New Guinea Islands region. You might also consider re-directing the fiber link portion that heads off to Guam from the fiber link that Telikom purchased from Telstra Australia.
Thirdly, a suitable technology for the majority of schools, hospitals, churches and district office in the remote settings of PNG is Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT). However, to ensure that these are kept operational, it is mandatory that a better road infrastructure is put in place for the movement of installation and maintenance teams to attend to for the up keep of this service. A suitable “Community Service Obligation” (CSO) would need to be put in place that is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders. The local government at the district, national government and Telikom PNG as the service provider would need to have a serious undertaking on this as PNG’s bulk of the population are rural based.
Fourthly, with the increase in the International Bandwidth, demand for a wide array of services including Broadband Internet will explode. To facilitate this, the standard 4 Kilometer radius in Central Office dimensioning and location (Telikom Exchange) facility needs to be pursued vigorously. It doesn’t matter whether a suburb has 100 customers or 1000 customers, that area needs to be fed off from the Central Regional Office with fiber optic connectivity with full redundancy. A suitable multi-service equipment that has capability of providing Plain Old Telephony (POTS), Data Links, value added services and ADSL services needs to be located there. This can be co-located at a suitable business premise or at a roadside container.
Finally for Telikom PNG’s billing processes, it is imperative that, your current “Billing Upgrade Project” undertaken by the Sri Lankan Software company ( as reported on the Post Courier few months ago) delivers a “common pre-paid” platform for this. This provides greater flexibility in terms of management and customer interface where they can be able to manage their accounts with Telikom in a timely and efficient manner. Only the top major customers can be billed on a post-paid basis.
I can drum on and on about this but, I need to stop here for other people’s feedback and comments.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ISSUES IN THE PACIFIC ISLANDS AND OCEANIA: PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PNG), FIJI, VANUATU, SOLOMON ISLANDS, TONGA, SAMOA, KIRIBATI, NAURU, NEW CALEDONIA, TAHITI, COOK ISLANDS, AND OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE PACIFIC.