Powering PNG’s Progress
TE (PNG) is stamping its hallmark of quality on projects across many industries in Papua New Guinea, a country set to benefit tremendously from boosted connectivity.
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Josh Hyland
“It’s an exciting time in PNG.
“The introduction of a new fibre optic cable linking us to Australia will provide a much-needed increase in capacity with the added benefit of a reduction in costs.
“This, combined with new domestic fibre cabling linking key centres, means that businesses and individuals will have access to more affordable services that will impact all industries.”
Robbie Huxley is full of optimism when it comes to Papua New Guinea’s development.
Joining TE (PNG) and moving to the country from Norfolk Island at the end of 2014, he now serves as the company’s Managing Director and Owner having jumped at the opportunity to join a firm with a longstanding reputation.
“I moved to PNG as an opportunity to expand my professional skills and have the opportunity to tackle some new and interesting projects,” Huxley continues.
“TE has a long history in PNG and has been part of many large communications projects such as Kokoda Track Radio Communications and the HF Health Network. It seemed like a really challenging and fulfilling step in my career.”
And it is these technology-driven projects which, for Huxley, will be genuine game-changers for the nation in years to come.
“The subsea cable upgrade for Port Moresby is a really important and life changing project for PNG,” he adds.
“If the government offers lower cost traffic services to ISPs and those cost savings are passed on, 3G and 4G services for data will grow, health and education will have new opportunities and commercial businesses will be able to continue growth through internet and voice services.
“TE is directly involved with many sectors of the market which will be engaged on this.”
Huxley also points to exciting developments in the mining and resources sphere.
The company has been engaged with global giants ExxonMobil and Total during their time in PNG, supplying a suite of products and services to them.
Huxley and TE (PNG) are looking to build on these partnerships both with the two O&G majors and their contractors, the companies currently in dialogue over the provision of IT products and support, communications systems (radio, satellite and wireless), security systems, access control, intrusion protection and asset monitoring.
In the aviation space, a long-term partnership with PNG Air Services also continues to bear fruit.
“Most recently we have been working with them on their NiuSky project, a full upgrade to all their systems related to air traffic control across PNG,” Huxley explains. “When completed it will provide a very modern and world-class platform.
“We have built redundant microwave networks between key remote sites, upgraded all the data cabling within their buildings to the latest standards to support high throughput and reliable networks, and are currently building a high capacity microwave network for key information flow to third parties.”
Crucial to the successful delivery of projects such as these, asides for TE (PNG)’s own competencies and adherence to quality, is a strong supplier network built up over many years.
Just as TE (PNG) operates as a partner to many of its clients, so too are the firms involved in the company’s own supply chain. The majority are Australian, and some have been working with the organisation since it was founded in 1955.
“We choose our suppliers based on their quality products and accurate information regarding timelines for manufacturing and shipment in order to meet our customers’ expectations and timelines,” Huxley adds.
“Our supplier partners often make the difference in our ability to meet our project deadlines by providing us high-level technical support on products and systems. We have completed many unique projects in PNG and have suppliers in the country regularly assist with product training, upskilling, new product development and commissioning of large projects.”
Power to PNG people
While most of TE (PNG)’s partners are located in Australia, Huxley is proud of the fact the firm is first and foremost a PNG company.
More than 90 of its staff are nationals, and considerable efforts go into ensuring they are offered the opportunity to train and develop skills.
“We believe all projects in PNG should have a strong focus on sustainability,” says Huxley, “including local supply and installation, training and support for local technicians and ongoing reliability.
“It is upsetting when we see projects that are installed and stop working after a year or two as there is no support or ongoing maintenance as engaged by outside companies.”
Indeed, key to TE remaining ahead of the curve is keeping its skills base up to date.
This is ensured by detailed training programmes in the form of in-house courses and online modules from numerous external providers. Further, when necessary staff are sent to other locations, including overseas to supplier firms.
Asides developing its own employees’ knowledge, TE empowers locals through eager support of charities via initiatives such as event sponsorship.
For example, it recently assisted St John Ambulance with a full upgrade of the non-profit’s operations centre in Port Moresby, providing the organisation access to its existing UHF radio network for communications in the area, and assisting with IT requirements.
It is vital for Huxley that such work within the community continues in the years to come, the MD outlining this objective alongside the ambition of developing the company’s market presence across PNG through local and international partnerships.
This includes introducing new technologies to the country, something which Huxley is adamant will catalyse development to the benefit of all.
He concludes: “PNG may be behind other countries in certain areas, but that provides the best chance of actually improving as the bar has already been set. Commitments from companies such as Exxon and Total indicate outside investment is strong.
“The ICT upgrades such as the subsea fibre cables have the opportunity to disrupt many sectors of the market by providing low cost services within data and voice. The knock-on effects could see improvement in education, health and commercial sectors overnight.
“PNG has a lot of opportunity to offer for those willing to work hard, be part of the community and provide long-term solutions.”