Key Issues
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"Key Internet Policy Issues" is a series of contributions from people living in countries new or relatively new to the Internet about what they consider to be key policy issues related to the deployment and use of the Internet in their country. Each text is published under the complete responsibility and with the permission of its author. These contributions were solicited by Alan McCluskey, guest editor, in preparation for a special issue of the Internet Society's magazine "OnTheInternet" entitled "Strategies for development: from thought to action" to be published in November 1997. For more information and comments on the preparation of this special edition see "Addressing Key Policy Issues".

Papua New Guinea
Restrictive telecommunications policies

In Papua New Guinea one of the major drawbacks to the development of the Internet has been the policies regarding Telecommunications. There should be some regulation when it comes to the Internet, yet it should be geared to encouraging rather than to discouraging such developments.

Internet was established in June 1990 in the University of Technology mainly for e-mail. This service was offered to staff and some other research organisations within Papua New Guinea. It had a total of 250 users. In November 1994, while the University was preparing the development of a full Internet node, Telikom - the local PTT who have a monopoly on telecommunications - published a call for expression of interest in setting up and managing an Internet service for them. Many applied but nothing happened for quite some time. In April 1996, the University applied to the PTT for a leased line in order to set-up its own full Internet connectivity. The application was delayed for almost 18 months and then an offer was made of a 9.6 Kbps leased line to Australia at US$ 100,000 annually. In the mean time, in April 1997, the Telikom announced their service to the public and established an Internet gateway via Australia. They approached the university to acquire or simply take over the DNS registration but the administration flatly refused.

Publically launched in June 1997, Telikom provides the carrier gateway service and there are 5 ISPs under license from Telikom who provide Internet service to the public. There are about 40 companies who have their own domain names and there are about 1000 internet and e-mail users.

The government have kept quiet on the whole issue, mainly because little is known about what the Internet is and what potential or impact it may have. The educational annual budget is among the lowest in the country, so affording a luxury such as a leased line to Australia is difficult. However, several ministers and officials have been briefed, and a submission is going to be made by the Minister of Education to the Parliament to create a charging mechanism or a subsidy, so that the educational system in Papua New Guinea can benefit from the resources of Internet. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen.

In Papua New Guinea, the lack of progress as far as the Internet is concerned is mainly due to the fact that the most people have little outside news or information, and our leaders are not well informed of the capabilities of Internet. This lack of awareness has done little to help spread the zeal and enthusiasm about the Internet as it exists in other parts of the world. So development has been slow. I believe the communication industry, both Telikom and suppliers and vendors of communication equipment, should invest more in encouraging the development of the Internet. By increasing the number of users they increase their return on investment, rather than worrying about large investment and getting very little return on a short term basis.

Kamrooz Khademazad, University of Technology, Papua New Guinea.

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Created: September 5th, 1997 - Last up-dated: September 5th, 1997