By: Adrian Potter
If you’re old enough to remember business communications via telex, then you’ll understand just how important connectivity is to modern trade and the resulting economic development which in turn brings about significant improvements in health care, education and raises the general standard of living.
It was the 1980s in PNG and I remember the arrival of our shiny new fax machine. It revolutionized the way we communicated. We could draw pictures to illustrate problems and instantly send these to the head office in Australia or the USA. We could place orders for supplies without standing in front of the telex, slowly typing messages that came out on delicate paper punch tape before being run through the machine again and hopefully not breaking mid stream. The fax machine improved our productivity and resulted in measurable improvements in our bottom line.
Fast forward almost 30 years, could you imagine running your business today without email, prevented from marketing your products on social media or not being able to look up manuals and parts catalogs. How could make it through lunch without knowing who was trying to contact you or who had written a review about your latest and greatest product or service, booking your return taxi ride to the office and all from the palm of your hand on your 3G or 4G smart phone. If all of a sudden you couldn’t do these things, your business would grind to a halt wouldn’t it? Well this is the every day experience that many hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Pacific face each and every day and in 2015 no less.
In Port Moresby, Honiara, Port Vila, Suva, Funafuti, Tarawa, Pago Pago and many more Pacific Island cities there’s a mobile communications revolution underway. If you’ve traveled through the islands recently you’ll agree that there’s an undeniable communications revolution underway. Some of the luckiest cities have undersea fiber cables, some have new ultra fast MEO satcom links. However you don’t have to venture too far from town to discover old G.703 E1 microwave links, connecting 2G phone sites. 2G banking and other text based apps are incredibly popular. These old networks will, or are already being crushed by the demand for data throughout the Pacific and not just in the most populace towns and cities but regional areas too. Data and communications demands will increase at an exponential rate in the coming years.
It’s a little old, November 2012 in fact, but I encourage you to take a look at the Lowy Institute for International Policy’s report titled; “Digital Islands: How the Pacific’s ICT Revolution is Transforming the Region”. It can be found here; http://www.lowyinstitute.org/files/cave_digital_islands_web.pdf. I find it an extremely interesting read. Just one of the many profound quotes; “What makes the ICT revolution in the Pacific particularly transformative is its potential to address the region’s demographic, geographic and economic challenges”.
I share the hopes and dreams of the Pacific Islands political and business leadership, that the digital mobile broadband revolution will soon enrich the lives of the Pacific people. Connectivity will bring about political, social, educational, health care and economic reforms that were only dreamt about in recent times.
I’ve recently written of my amazement at the technical and business achievements of O3B. A satellite based fiber replacement in the sky, which has either delayed or negated the need for Pacific Island nations to use their sovereign wealth funds to invest in expensive under sea fiber cables. This MEO system has its place, its pros and its cons. However another transformative technology is on the near horizon for the Pacific, one that will help bridge the digital divide.
Like the long overdue, High Throughput (HTS) Ka Band satellites now being constructed and soon to be launch by Australia’s National Broadband Network Co. a new provider will soon be over head providing the same NBN like speeds and service to the Pacific. Kacific will bring the next wave of affordable broadband to homes, villages and businesses throughout the Pacific Islands. In addition large parts of under served regional and remote parts of Asia, like Indonesia’s far flung Islands, which are not so different from the South Pacific Islands, these will also benefit from Kacific’s new satellite. Not to mention parts of NZ which will also soon have an ultra fast and affordable Ka Band HTS satellite service via Kacific.
With powerful and focused Ka Band spot beams across the vast distance of the Pacific Ocean, Kacific will deliver broadband speeds at never before seen pricing, in places you would never have suspected and all by using quite inexpensive end user terminal equipment. The company’s web site says that the potential market for their new satellite is in excess of 40 million people. A market they’ll clearly lead and dominate in the very near future given their innovative approach to the problem and regional uniqueness.
It’s worth taking a look at their web site; http://kacific.com/.
Just look at the success of companies like Digicell who are investing in the Pacific’s digital future and reaping the financial rewards for doing so. When Kacific eventually lists I’d say take a punt, this is something that will not only make business sense for your investment portfolio, but you’ll be helping the people of the Pacific Islands into a new digital future of health, economic freedom, global participation and happiness.