Update from PNG telco regulator (NICTA) regarding the construction of mobile communication towers
By Andrew Kidu and Aminah Salmang
The Papua New Guinea telco regulator (NICTA) issued a Public Notice on 29 April 2022 regarding the construction of mobile communication towers. The Public Notice states NICTA is in the process of developing regulatory guidelines for the construction of mobile communication towers, and in the interim has issued certain directives which are to be observed by the general public, tower owners and mobile network operators.
These directives purport to prohibit the erection of mobile towers within 200 metres of existing towers, schools or hospitals in residential and industrial areas or near highways or main roads.
NICTA noted existing towers will remain until the relevant regulatory instrument is finalized. Apparently, NICTA inspectors will also be conducting random inspections to ensure compliance.
Despite the notice, without the relevant legal instruments being in place, the legality of these directives is questionable and open to challenge.
If put in place, the new measures appear likely to lead to increased costs for the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure – this would be a disincentive to investment which could stifle competition. Such an outcome would not align with the Government’s ICT Policy which encourages competition and reduced regulatory oversight and, regrettably, may lead to higher costs and poorer services for consumers.