TELIKOM PNG will be restructured and refinanced to become a national telecommunications retail service provider, Public Enterprises Minister Sir Mekere Morauta announced last night, The National reports.
Speaking at the launch of the information “Super Highway” in Lae, he said the National Transmission Network (NTN) was essentially an integrated optical fibre, satellite and microwave network to be controlled by a new company called DataCo, which was recently set up as part of the NTN plan.
DataCo will own and operate the network as a wholesale provider of telecommunications.
“This role will become increasingly important, given the need to provide strong competition to Digicel, and to meet growing mobile phone demand in rural and remote areas,” Sir Mekere said.
“It is estimated that capital funding of K500 million will be required under the NTN plan to cover the cost of assets owned by Telikom and PNG Power, repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure, the building of new infrastructure and the restructuring and recapitalising of Telikom.
Sir Mekere said K5 million of that funding has already been supplied by IPBC to get this K5.6 million “missing link” project completed.
“Telikom did not have the funds to pay, so IPBC paid, in order to complete this much-needed link.”
Sir Mekere said DataCo would be required to meet community service obligations, for which a policy was being developed, and funding may be needed to cover the CSO-driven extension of telecommunications services into areas of the country that may not be profitable.
“I am hopeful that the incoming Government will see the wisdom and enormous benefit of providing some of the total K500 million required for the NTN through the Sovereign Wealth Fund, through a funding cell created to recapitalise and rehabilitate SOEs, a concept I developed and recommended to the government with exactly this sort of application in mind.
“This plan represents a new start for telecommunications, which is one of the most important drivers of national development.
“Telecommunications has been an obstacle to growth and prosperity, and the NTN plan is a way to remove that obstacle and spur new growth.”