Papua New Guinea’s treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, recently said that modernising the telecoms industry would benefit the country and help the economy to evolve.

Ling-Stuckey made his comments in Melbourne while in discussion with Telstra CEO Andy Penn. Telstra is currently in the process of buying Digicel’s Pacific business, including Digicel PNG, for US$1.6 billion – about K5.48 billion.

“Broader access for our people to modern, low-cost data and voice communications can make PNG a safer, richer and better educated nation,” Ling-Stuckey said.

“Around the globe, it is recognised that modern telecommunications can connect people in ways simply not possible using traditional landline phone services.

“A good, fast data connection can allow our small-to-medium-sized enterprises to reach out to markets around the world without having to go through middlemen. This means better access to bigger markets with greater returns to our entrepreneurs,” Ling-Stuckey continued.

“Access to better, faster, cheaper data also opens doors for dramatically increased education opportunities. Combined with appropriate safeguards, it can also bring low-cost banking services throughout our country without the need for physical bank branches.

“Connections to families and wantoks is much easier. And it could even make it easier to watch the State of Origin,” he added.

Treasurer Ling-Stuckey stressed that to achieve the gains and advantages brought by a modern telecommunications sector, there would need to be more investment in Papua New Guinea’s infrastructure.

“It will require good regulation to ensure that the gains from the submarine cables to PNG are shared broadly,” he said.

“There is a need to improve greater access to the more modern 4G network rather than, the older 2G and 3G networks,” Ling-Stuckey said.