Sunday, September 30, 2007

The need for PNG to improve its ICT

Picture at left: Personal computers should be made available to underprivileged demographic groups in PNG
The overwhelming response to my two articles on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Papua New Guinea, from both within the country and abroad, shows the urgent need for the country to improve its ICT in this rapidly-globalised world.

I was overwhelmed by the responses to my articles in The National on Friday September 7 titled “Building your own website” and the one last Friday titled “Internet cafes and the digital divide”.

This week, I’d like to share with the readers of this column, some of the many responses to my articles over the last two weeks.

I was inundated by the constant stream of SMS text messages and emails from people, particularly small business men and women wanting to build their own websites, as well as those complaining about the very high Internet usage fees being charged in PNG.

A good friend of mine built his own website free of charge after reading my first article without having to pay exorbitant fees for a website designer, a domain name, or Internet Service Provider (ISP) rentals.

It was a dream come true for this friend of mine, who has been trying for years to have his own website, only to be met with the brick wall of high costs.

A handful of individuals and small business men and women are now in the process of building their own websites, while I am advising several others all over the country how to build their own, without being ripped of by unscrupulous companies and individuals.

Second-year Divine Word University IT student Julia Komoru commented: “We have completed a unit on website developing recently, and it’s not at all difficult to create a website.

“It’s really hard to understand why individuals and organisations charge so much for doing something so simple.”

Last Friday’s article on the very high Internet rates in this country, particularly those being charged by ISPs in Port Moresby at their cafes, brought back a swift and emotional response.

I particularly compared the high rates by charged by Data Nets and Datec to the low rates being charged at the RH Hypermart and the Sports Inn.

“I read with interest your article in the Weekender Section on ‘Internet cafes and the digital divide’,” wrote Data Nets general-manager Sundar Ramamurthy

“The piece that caught my eye was your basic comparison between our Cafe pricing (as an ISP) and those at the Sports Inn and RH.

“The question that is asked is ‘Why are our prices much higher than your favourite places i.e. Sports Inn and RH?


“1) Like any business the charging is market-driven. It could very
well be that RH and Sports Inn subsidise their Internet access so
people come in and have a drink or buy goods. This is often called a
‘loss leader’ that attracts customers to come to their shop to buy
other goods whilst they are on the Internet.

“2) One needs to compare the speed. Fifteen minutes at a more expensive
place might be equal to 30 minutes at a slower cafe. So price needs to be
compared to performance. In Internet terms this means speed and
throughput and value.

“In broad terms, there is broad concurrence that cost and reliability
(power and telecommunications) are critical to the future of PNG's
communications requirements.”

Datec general-manager Tony Westaway wrote: “I read with interest your article in the National on Friday 14 September 2007.

“You talked of a need to develop and expand the ICT industry and the country keeping in touch with world standards.

“You mentioned that students need to be educated on the potential of ICT.

“Datec is holding a Technology Expo over the 12th and 13th of October 2007 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby.

“We will have a significant number of International exhibitors in attendance.

“It will provide an opportunity for business people, IT specialists, and most importantly students, to see the most recent developments in Information & Communication Technology.

“Datec has already distributed over 1000 free tickets to students in technical colleges, UPNG and TAFE, and other institutions in Port Moresby.

“By the way Datec is currently reviewing its charges for the Internet CafĂ© in Port Moresby.”

An anonymous reader wrote: “Internet access in PNG is much more expensive than you probably realise.

“For example Datec charges K100 for 80MB Wireless Internet access.

“In New Zealand KOL charges K100 for 10GB or 10,000MB Broadband Internet access.

“That is, PNG is 125 times more expensive! Further the speed is considerably slower!

“My understanding is that these ridulously high charges are because of the ridiculously high charges Telikom charges Datec and other ISPs.

“I can only afford very limited Internet access compared in PNG compared to what I used to be able to afford in New Zealand.”

Sam Roth wrote from Japan: “Thanks for keeping us informed on the development of ITC in PNG, especially with Internet.

“I have a good collection of your latest articles on IT and am quite pleased with your work.

“Keep up the good work and know that you have fans all over the world.

“In fact, it is an area of interest for me especially my Masters Thesis, and am amazed that I am not alone in this to make our beautiful country catch up with the rest of the world in ITC.”

Sam signed off with a quote from Einstein: "Among every impossibility lies an opportunity."

For comments and feedback, email the author at or SMS 6849763.

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