ABS has been granted the Network, Applications and Gateway Operator licenses to serve Papua New Guinea (PNG) from the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA)—the licenses awarded will allow ABS to operate as a telecom operator as well as a satellite service provider.
ABS is the first international satellite operator to incorporate a company in PNG, known as ABS Global Satellite Limited (AGSL), to provide information communication technology (ICT) services, registered with the Investment Promotions Authority. ABS has been in partnership with NICTA since 2008. This has resulted in a number of orbital slot positions around the world being brought into use by the company by deploying several satellites currently at those orbital locations. AGSL has met all due diligence requirements and its license applications were approved by the NICTA Board on December 16, 2016. The three Individual Operator Licenses granted by NICTA are technology neutral and now give AGSL the rights to provide ICT services in accordance with NICT (Operator Licensing) Regulation 2010.
ABS initially plans to set up a major teleport in Port Moresby to provide connectivity from its Asian gateway though the ABS-6 satellite which will bring cost effective internet connectivity and VSAT services into the country. From the gateway hub, we will also offer more affordable internet access to remotes in underserved rural regions and outlying islands transforming the market with accessible and reliable services. ABS will be primarily engaged in satellite based or satellite support telecom infrastructure, but where necessary will deploy fiber or microwave to complement the connectivity requirements. Cellular mobile service is also allowed under the license and may be contemplated in the future.
Tom Choi, the EO of ABS, stated that the approval of the telecommunication licenses is an important milestone and development for the company in the South Pacific region. The challenge in the Pacific has been to deliver high quality resilient and cost effective voice and data solutions. Improvement in connectivity paves an opportunity for sustainable growth in PNG and is central to bridging the gap with its rural areas and neighboring countries. PNG is the land of the unexpected, and ABS is happy to bring competition into the market place to enable the provision of more affordable telecom services to the ultimate benefit of the PNG populace.
Mr. Charles Punaha, CEO of NICTA, commented, “PNG internet penetration remains below 10 percent, which is very low on a global scale. This is mainly because the cost of rolling out a network in PNG is very expensive, compounded by the topographical conditions of the country, with isolated communities. NICTA is pleased at the entry of the first satellite operator into the country to bring competition for the provision of ICT services which will result in more economical pricing. This will, in turn, trigger a higher demand for services supporting the development of the country.