Strengthening the foundation for PNG’s digital future

By on 13 May 2020

Categories: Community, Development

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It’s not often a developing economy with only one submarine cable connecting it to the global Internet gets a new four-fibre-pair submarine cable with a minimum 20 Tbps capacity, as well as access to a new communication satellite that will increase its national connectivity a 1,000 fold.

Since July 2019, when the AUD 96.4 million Coral Sea Cable landed near Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (PNG), work has continued on the USD 200 million 5,457 km Kumul Submarine Cable Network (KSCN) domestic Internet platform to link 14 provinces and two national data centres in Port Moresby and Madang. Adding another 8 Tbps to PNG’s connectivity, KSCN will connect to Jakarta through Indonesia’s national backbone submarine cable network and further connect to Asia to form a new international Internet gateway.

Adding to this, Kacific Broadband Satellites’ first communications satellite, Kacific1, entered commercial service in March supporting customers in PNG with high-throughput, Ka-band satellite services. In all, that’s over a 1,000-fold increase in national connectivity over a 2-3 year period.

All this new capacity has helped boost the local Internet community. PNG’s first Internet Exchange Point in Port Moresby continues to grow; PNGCERT is settling into its new offices at NICTA; and, at the end of last year, members of the local technical community announced plans for PNGNOG. Most active of all are the 9,000 plus members of the PNG ICT page on Facebook.

As the oceanic region’s second-largest economy by both population and land area — second only to Australia — PNG has faced and overcome many technical challenges. Not least of which was to provide connectivity to the 2018 APEC Summit in Port Moresby when it hosted 21 leaders from the Asia Pacific.

To support the local technical community in its efforts, the APNIC Foundation launched a technical training and assistance project in August 2018 that delivered 24 events over 18 months, including seven workshops in the run-up to the APEC Summit. The project looked to respond, in particular, to local demand for training in routing, information security, network security, and DNS/DNSSEC.

The 24 events in PNG included three community consultations (two in Port Moresby and one in Lae) to provide local input and guidance on what the training should focus on. This was followed by 17 technical workshops and two technical assistance visits.

Targeted at not only APNIC’s 31 Members (including ISPs and mobile operators), but also technical staff at a range of government departments, businesses and academic organizations, the workshops were expanded in 2019 to include the northern city of Lae. Around 250 individual technical staff (386 participated in total, 22% female participation) from 96 organizations benefitted from the training opportunities provided, with some attending up to 6 workshops!

In addition to the events in PNG, the project invited and sponsored the most committed trainees that attended and completed the highest number of workshops to travel and participate at the workshop of their choosing at APNIC 46 in Noumea, New Caledonia (4 sponsored participants), and APRICOT 2020 in Melbourne, Australia (7 sponsored participants).

Led by the community engagements, the project has been the single largest technical training and assistance effort at the national level in the history of APNIC. Funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) in partnership with The Asia Foundation, the project will wrap up in the second half of this year.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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