Last updated April 2017. Short version: Telikom prepaid on 4G is the cheapest, Datec is the easiest. Long version…
In Port Moresby, you currently can choose from GPRS/3G/4G (mobile data using hotspot or a modem), wireless (terrestrial microwave dish) or ADSL (copper wires). Not all residences have working copper wires so don’t count on it being an option where you will be living.
Also, it’s a good idea to learn the difference between bits and bytes so you’re not confused by the numbers and terminology.
The main players are Digicel, BMobile-Vodafone and Telikom PNG. Digicel has superior coverage and majority market share; but are highly congested. Telikom and bmobile are both owned by the PNG Government under Kumul Telikom Holdings. PNG doesn’t have “data SIMs” so you can just use any SIM in a dongle/modem if you want to use it over a WiFi connection; or set up a WiFi hotspot on your mobile.
A breakdown on a cost per MB of the mobile carriers’ data bundles. NB: I only compare the large data packs to keep it simple.
|Digicel Prepaid||Cost (K)||Data (MB)||K per MB|
You can see here that the Telikom prepaid is the cheapest when it comes to mobile data; they also use 4G LTE (so do Digicel now). Their online portal is easy to use and you can track your usage there. Telikom offer the same data bundles for their ADSL service, see below.
- With Digicel prepaid, data rolls over if you set it up to automatically renew the data bundle when it expires (not runs out). You get notified via SMS when you are about to use up your bundle but if you are using a dongle, you won’t see this SMS.
Telikom roll data over if you buy a new bundle before the one you are currently using runs out or expires, see my Telikom post for more info.
Digicel prepaid: I got 200kB/s at around 18:00 on a weeknight and 1mB/s (yes megaByte) on a Monday morning at 10:00. It varies depending on the time of day so faster early morning and crawling at around 21:00 during peak mobile usage time; I have gave up using my phone between 19:00 and 22:00 when using mobile data. I noticed a complete network drops about 2-3 times a week where data will not work at all; classic PNG.
Telikom: Varying speeds but minimum is usually at least 200kB/s, adequate for almost all internet use. I switched to Telikom 3 weeks ago and it’s been very reliable.
All prepaid providers require you to top up your account with kina (PNG’s currency) and then redeem data bundles. If you use up your data bundle you will be charged per MB and this is very expensive; never use data outside a bundle!
From what I can tell, no one provides an option to stop data being used outside bundles or auto buy when used up. Digicel have an option to auto renew when a data bundle is going to expire and your data will roll over, they will not renew the bundle when the data is used up though.
Most of the mobile providers have online portals you can log into to check your kina balance and buy data bundles. I never got my Digicel portal set up due to “suspicious behaviour” on my end. Telikom was super easy to set up, see my Telikom post for more info on that.
Wireless internet using a dish (terrestrial microwave) or ADSL
There are 3 main players here, Datec and Speedcast (they just acquired Oceanic) and Lightspeed (ClickTV). I couldn’t find Lightspeed’s plans at this time, they are relatively new.
Speedcast is who you go with when you want fast and reliable internet; and have cash to burn. Their setup fee is about K7800 and monthly charge is about K1800 for a 32kB/s unlimited data connection; GTFO. I was told you can get 30ms ping and 98% uptime with them so good if you want to do online gaming. Their fastest plan is 640kB/s but it costs over K30,000 per month, not kidding.
So Datec then. Here is their latest flyer for residential plans (as at July 2016).
The only good thing about these plans is the price and the speed during off peak times; on Datec I can get about 750kB/s consistently and rarely have drop outs. During on peak the 48kB/s is painful and my browsing and downloads frequently fail, they are definitely prioritising business connections during the day. If you require good internet during weekdays, I suggest going on the Office Plans.
Upload is about 48kB/s during business/on-peak hours and 100kB/s during off-peak hours. They do no count towards your monthly download quota in anyway. However, I have not ever uploaded more than 40GB in one month so not sure if there is a separate limit on uploads.
Whilst it says K99 setup, it doesn’t include the other setup fees required for a new connection. Even if you have had Datec installed at your residence in the past, you will be charged them.
K499 to install or plug in your dish (“AN-NBM5 Nano Beam Radio”)
K385 professional services (who knows)
K299 to set up your router
K99 to set up your plan
I successfully got the K299 router set up waived as I had my own router, even though the techs did fumble their way through the router’s screens and switched it to EWAN mode for me; I offered to do it for them but they insisted.
I almost got the K499 dish fee waived as I had an existing dish wired into my apartment, however the inspection showed that my dish was old and out of warranty. Datec said I could use the old dish at no cost but “couldn’t guarantee good quality internet”. I decided to get the new dish after 4 months; haven’t noticed a difference.
Oh and you don’t actually own any of the equipment they give you, you rent it for K2 a month from them. This way their charges are for “set up” not the actual items they are “setting up”.
More information on how Datec internet works on my Datec Internet in PNG post.
Telikom on 4G is probably the best option for most, just be aware you will need to manually top up with 7GB bundles. They don’t have any setup fees, just equipment you need to buy. If you have your own unlocked 3G/4G modem or modem router, you can just use that.
Get Datec for home internet if you download a lot of data and don’t want to think about recharging.
If you are one of the people who whine that “data was stolen”, I challenge you to install an app like Internet Speed Meter Lite, My Data Manager or Glasswire and actually have a look at what your device is doing in the background. A lot of apps and operating systems pull in hundreds of megabytes of updates and cache without you knowing. Stop blaming the phone companies just because you didn’t manage your background data.