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 Friday, November 09, 2012

Since the introduction of mobile competition in October 2007, people in Papua New Guinea are able to own affordable mobile handsets and make cheaper calls for both business and personal use. In a country with rugged mountains and isolated islands, the mobile revolution has been embraced by ordinary Papua New Guineans. Over two million more people in PNG and the Pacific now have mobile phones compared to a decade ago.

“Before, whenever there was a death in the village, people had to travel long distances to the nearest government station or town to notify relatives in other provinces. But now we don’t have to because everyone has mobile phones and we can just call from the village”, said Mary, a housewife in Port Moresby who uses her mobile phone to get in touch with people in her village.

The World Bank has been helping to facilitate improved access to mobile phones and a stronger policy and regulatory framework for ICT all over the Pacific region. Working with other development partners, coupled with increased investment by the private sector, has reduced the cost of services and dramatically increased access.

In 2011, 26 percent of people in PNG had access to mobile phones. Before there was competition among telecom providers, only 4 percent of the population had access to either a fixed line or a mobile phone.

While these figures are still low compared to other countries in the region, it is a big difference with the time when there was only one operator. Back then, the handsets were too expensive and call rates were too high and just owning one was considered a luxury.

Competition among mobile operators has brought another dimension to the mobile revolution, such as mobile banking, sending money and purchasing utilities such as electricity using mobile phones, all of which are making life easier for everyday Papua New Guineans.

(Source: World Bank)