PNG ICCC looks into internet pricing

 THERE are still issues regarding the regulation of internet prices in Papua New Guinea, the country's Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) says.

ICCC held a preliminary inquiry into the market following consumers’ complaints regarding the prices of retail broadband internet services.

PNG ICCC looks into internet pricing
PNG ICCC looks into internet pricing 

ICCC commissioner and chief executive officer Paulus Ain said there were concerns from consumers that the substantial reductions in the prices for wholesale internet broadband services by PNG DataCo Ltd (DataCo) in 2021 were not being passed down to consumers at the retail end.

The ICCC conducted its inquiry from December to March to identify issues relating to these consumer complaints.

It talked to major industry stakeholders including the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), DataCo, Digicel PNG Ltd, Daltron PNG Ltd, Telikom PNG Ltd and Datec PNG Ltd.

“The ICCC raised consumer concerns, seeking information as to why advertised reductions in wholesale prices were not passed on, why consumers were not seeing corresponding price reductions at the retail level,” Ain said.

“The National Information and Communications Technology Authority (Nicta), the ICT regulator, was also consulted.” The ICCC found:

  • DIFFERENT cost structures for ISPs in PNG – mobile network operators and regular ISPs in the town area affecting their pricing for internet services at retail level;
  • WHOLESALE pricing provided by DataCo is a cost input into the retail service pricing only if the ISP is acquiring the wholesale service from DataCo;
  • THE National Transmission Network (NTN) operated by DataCo is mostly unreliable with too many prolonged outages, hence ISPs cannot fully depend on NTN. To maintain connectivity, additional costs incurred as the source through alternative sources – 03B satellites;
  • DESPITE the advertised 66 per cent price reductions in the metro fibre service provided by DataCo, prices for this service remains relatively high, in comparison with similar services provided by international service providers;
  • VERTICAL integration issues with DataCo. DataCo controls key wholesale infrastructure but it is also participants in retail market. This has raised concerns with ISPs the ICCC has consulted and could raise competition concerns, for the ICCC in the future; and,
  • POTENTIAL entry and roll-out of mobile network operators (Vodafone) could improve competition in the market. It is also beneficial for DataCo as it adds to another large customer for the NTN. This in turn could put pressure on DataCo as the NTN owner to improve on service provision so standards and coverage can be improved and become more efficient.

“The ICCC understands that Nicta will be conducting an enquiry this year into the retail market for internet broadband services in PNG,” Ain said.

“This is due to create regulatory oversight in this segment of the market and enable ISPs to compete efficiently, in providing services to consumers.”

The National / Pacific Business News

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