Amanda H A Watson, PhD candidate,
Queensland University of Technology
My research explores the role of mobile telephony and change in rural communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Mobiles have only just recently become widely available in PNG. Prior to mid-2007, the government telecommunication provider, Telikom PNG, held a monopoly, but not many people had mobiles as the networks were so limited, with only poor quality reception, even in urban areas.
But then the govt’s competition commission decided the market should be opened up to competition, and it granted licences to two overseas companies. One of them, GreenCom, has failed to offer any services. The other company, Digicel, is the same company that has been discussed by Daniel Miller and Heather Horst in relation to Jamaica. Like in Jamaica, Digicel campaigned in a slick and prominent manner from the outset, and expanded reception across the country very quickly.
Since Digicel commenced operations, mobile phone uptake has increased at an astonishing rate. Of particular interest to me is the rollout of mobile phone coverage to rural and remote communities which have never had access to landline telephones.
The reason I became interested in the topic is because of a conversation I had with a woman from Chimbu, PNG, late in 2007. She was telling me about her village, which is a fairly typical village, in that it has no improved water supply, no electricity and no landline telephones. And then she told me that they have mobile phone reception there now! I was so struck by this that I decided that I wanted to do my PhD research about this to find out the role of mobile phones in rural villages in PNG.
I am now a PhD student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. I hope to complete my thesis next year. Before moving to Brisbane, I spent three years as a lecturer at Divine Word University in Madang, PNG, in the Communication Arts Department.
More information can be found at: thechook.wordpress.com/the-pecking-order-2/amanda-watson/
Abstract and more info: thechook.wordpress.com/the-pecking-order-2/amanda-watson/
Radio interview: abc.net.au/rn/futuretense/stories/2010/2948623.htm
YouTube video of recent conference presentation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlWT080GIl4