Tuesday 2 January 2023
(l-r) ICT Minister Hon. Timothy Masiu, NICTA Chairman and Registrar General NID Mr Noel MOBIA, NICTA Board Director Mr John Cholai during the announcement of StarLink entering PNG’s Digital Landscape, in Kokopo on New Year’s Day (Monday 1 January 2024).
Minister for Information and Communications Technology, Hon. Timothy Masiu officially announced the issuance of a five-year operator license to StarLink Incorporated for its satellite services by the National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA).
The announcement took place at Kokopo, East New Britain Province, and marked a significant progress towards bridging the digital divide and providing much-needed internet access to remote areas.
“This is a positive impact to our sector, and our New Year’s gift to Papua New Guinea,” declared Minister Masiu.
He emphasized the license’s significance in enabling StarLink to establish, maintain, and operate its satellite network, bringing broadband telecommunication services, especially to rural and remote areas of PNG.
The decision followed a public consultation conducted by NICTA, and aim to address the long-standing challenges faced by many regions in PNG regarding internet access due to geographical and infrastructure constraints.
Minister Masiu expressed confidence that StarLink’s entry would promote competition, contribute to the government’s policy goals for universal access, and pave the way for the digital transformation of PNG.
NICTA Chairman, Mr. Noel Mobia, acknowledged the careful consideration preceding the licensing decision.
“It took us some time to do that because this interesting new technology has just come into realization after maybe 9-10 years of development,” he explained.
“The positive side is we can connect all those remote schools now, and the cost to this satellite service is very low compared to fixed orbit satellites, which is a plus for our government.”
Mr. Mobia also highlighted the importance of regulatory measures to protect national interests while fostering technological advancement. “We will be reviewing the arrangement of operation with StarLink in the next five years on the pluses and the minuses to ensure our National Security is intact,” he added.
NICTA Board Director, Mr. John Cholai, reiterated the organization’s commitment to bridging the “Digital Divide.”
He stated, “with this StarLink system in place, it provides the technology and the means for us to close the government’s agenda of digital divide. We will also avoid duplication of infrastructure and funding.”
Mr. Cholai also acknowledged the geopolitical considerations and emphasizes confidence in StarLink’s capabilities, and NICTA’s commitment to remaining technology-focused and neutral.
“This ultimately is our goal, to ensure our people in the village stay connected and contribute to the market and national growth of our economy.”
The introduction of StarLink into Papua New Guinea’s digital landscape ensures vast coverage and potential for low-cost internet access, with its satellite network connecting remote communities, bridging the digital divide, and fostering economic growth.