Starlink licence to revolutionise Papua New Guinea’s internet landscape

Jan 8, 2024 | Blog, News

SpaceX’s Starlink has been granted a five-year operator licence by Papua New Guinea’s National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA). This is a significant stride towards bridging the digital gap in the country. This groundbreaking announcement was made by Hon. Timothy Masiu, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, marking it as a positive turning point for the nation.

Hon Timothy Maciu, Minister of Information and Communications Technology

The Starlink licence allows the company to establish, maintain, and operate its satellite network within the country. This development holds promising prospects for nationwide internet connectivity, with a specific focus on reaching the remote and underserved areas of PNG, as reported by local news outlets.

Consulting the public before awarding the license, NICTA aims to address the longstanding challenges and infrastructure limitations hindering internet access in PNG. NICTA Chairman Noel Mobia highlighted the transformative potential of Starlink’s technology, emphasizing the significant reduction in costs compared to traditional fixed orbit satellites. This, he noted, would enable the government to connect remote schools effectively.

John Cholai, a Director on the NICTA Board, expressed optimism that Starlink’s services could play a pivotal role in bridging the Digital Divide in PNG. With a current digital landscape boasting 1.66 million internet users, of which 1.03 million are active on social media, PNG faces a notable urban-rural divide. Over 85% of the population resides in rural areas, while social media users are predominantly concentrated in urban centers, with Port Moresby accounting for 56% of users.

This move by Starlink comes at a crucial juncture, as the technology is set to revolutionise internet accessibility after nearly a decade of development. Minister Masiu echoed the sentiment, declaring the license as a New Year’s gift to Papua New Guinea, emphasizing the positive impact it would have on the nation’s ICT sector.

As the Starlink satellite network takes flight in PNG, the anticipation is high for a more connected and inclusive digital landscape, promising a brighter future for education, communication, and economic growth in the country.