Communications in Papua New Guinea

Traditional methods of communication between villages included conch shells, drums, gongs, smoke signals and, across highland valleys, yodelling. Objects sent over longer distances could carry particular meanings. Europeans introduced Western communication techniques which, until World War II, served mainly expatriate, not PNGan, interests. In 1955 the Administration established a Department of Communications which was handed over to the Postal and Telecommunications Services in the Department of Public Utilities at Independence in 1975.

In 1993, sophisticated postal, telephone and fax services, radio and television broadcasting and newspapers, cater to the needs of industry and commerce and the 15 percent of the population who live in the urban areas. Radio and radio telephones, or personally delivered messages are the most important means of communication for villagers.

Postal and telephone services are provided through the government-owned Post and Telecommunication Corporation. The telephone system has been linked to the international system since 1967. The microwave repeater stations which relay messages across the country are mostly solar powered. In 1992 the telecommunications system was completely automated and had international links to most countries. In August 1993 a section of the system was upgraded by the installation of satellite antennas with unlimited overseas capacity. The telecommunications service is expensive because of the cost of land lines through rugged terrain, unrealistic compensation claims by villagers for mountain top repeater sites, the high wages of skilled labor, and the fact that there are few subscribers (32,000 in 1992). In 1976 PNG joined the Universal Postal Union which entitles it to reciprocal mailing rights with countries throughout the world.

The government-owned National Broadcasting Commission runs two national services, one with advertising, and a provincial network. There is also an Australian-owned commercial television station which provides mainly overseas English language programs in Port Moresby and several other urban centres. The most important newspapers are the English language daily Post Courier, the English language weekly Times of Papua New Guinea and Wantok, a Tok Pisin daily.

See also: Why Internet Connectivity and Cost Reduction should be a top priority for this Papua New Guinean Government

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