Papua New Guinea Internet|Costs vs Accessibility|Men vs Women
Internet has been in Papua New Guinea since about the start of the 90's. In September 1991, Papua New Guinea registered its country domain (.pg) - Network Feasibility Study Report , Internet History PNG
I remember the first time I went online was at Uni in 2000, and with the help of one of my coursemates (we studied Computer Science and I was the only female to graduate in the class after the four years) I was able to create my first email account on Hotmail.
I still have this email address but I've forgotten the password and recovery - so maybe I don't have it anymore.
The Internet was only accessible by certain people - and those certain people were the Uni Staff and the person, male, who assisted me, was the son of one of our Maths Lecturers.
There was a computer lab, which you would never find a computer vacant, and had internet access also, but at the time, we didn't really know much about the wealth of information there, and due to the limited access to the net, we depended mostly on outdated resources from the main uni library.
Fast-track 10 years to now 2014, every household seems to know what the internet is - KNOW as in - know the word Internet - that its some magical place where you can connect to people and get information.
Depending where you are in Papua New Guinea and who you are and your status and income, can more or less determine whether you have access to the internet or not - and most importantly reliable internet access.
Affordable - will not go with the phrase "internet in PNG" for now - as Internet costs in country is very expensive and any tourist or foreign visitor to the country will also complain about this.
There is no such thing as free wi-fi (oh wait - Eagle Boys Pizza opened up and they provide free wifi - one rare exception), at airport, hotel, anywhere - oh yes and at some private institutions.
Apart from this, unless you are an executive or IT officer at a big, corporate organisation then you have 'free' internet.
Everyone else has to dish out a few many PNG Kina to get online.
Accessibility - Thanks to Digicel mobile company, their slogan reads - The bigger, better network - Since 2007, they have placed communication towers along the rugged terrains, island provinces and thick jungles of Papua New Guinea to provide mobile network coverage throughout the country.
There was a buzz as mobile handsets were sold at affordable prices and in the last two years saw the introduction of mobile internet to their phone. Depending on the type of handset, mobile internet is restricted to certain sites, as other sites are difficult to load on their phones. Most people who use mobile internet, use simply for Facebook.
Facebook is the number one Social media and most likely the highest browsed site in PNG.
Generally, all are given equal access to accessing the internet - meaning men or women are not stopped from going on the internet. Est. 85% of those who use internet-based mobile phones with no other access to internet,may not be too familiar with better browsing techniques and how to access the endless opportunities out there.
If you put them in front of a desktop computer and asked them to browse the internet - many would be too afraid to press the keys or move the mouse.
Thus Basic Internet and Computing Training would have to be conducted to address these issues. This should also be introduced in the schools at the Primary level so that they can start developing these skills at a younger age.
I believe the greatest challenge for women to participate fully in online opportunities is Accessibility, and Costs. Even though one may have a Smart phone or Internet based phone - they still have little knowledge in how to access the net fully and to participate in such online activities that require you to be online for a long time, internet credits through the telecomms mobile handsets.
There also is no establishment such as a library, or community centre where women and youth can go to use the internet for their learning.
As a person who has qualifications in Computer Science - my greatest interest is not building computer programs, or machines but to see that children/youth/women and even men access the internet reliably, effectively and cost -efficient.
I have registered a small business called Computers And Internet Technology Services that provides mainly internet service consultations and contracting.
The two greatest project which I am currently embarking on are:
1) Basic Internet Training Guide: This book is soon to be complete to be published by a potential publisher company who has shown interest in printing it. This book is desired to be used by the schools and anyone else who wants to learn a bit more about the internet.
A Basic Computer Training Guide is to be put together also. I am looking at June to run a IT workshop to launch the guide and conduct training and have possibly a showcase of internet and computing services in the area.
Many people are still in the dark about the roles of telecommunication authorities, internet freedom (and restriction) etc.
2) Set up of a Fixed Wireless Broadband Internet Service
This is to basically provide a reliable, cost effective internet alternative to that of the telecomms USB internet modem, dial-up internet and no internet access at all.
This will give people an alternate choice to what is already on the market - even business houses can be able to tap into it.
This will allow one to also browse the internet, at the comfort of their own homes, and not use a public centre , such as a library or internet cafe.
*Internet Cafes and Libraries are only found in the main centre of Papua New Guinea. In the outer provinces, where I reside, if one doesn't have access to a laptop, or a mobile internet phone - then they do not have access to any of those opportunities personally.
3) Register a PNG Women In IT group. We do not have much of a body that exists that brings IT professionals together, there is but is not active. Doing a specific group for women in IT, brings together women IT professionals who can better focus and target women and girls to find out the challenges of them embarking on a IT career or simply the challenges of using a computer and the internet.
Many domestic violence cases have come about from the result of the technology era - mobile phones, internet, social media. Usually those in relationships may have restrictions in accessing the internet as a negative image of people connecting with people cause marital and relationship issues which hinder progress for exposure to empowerment opportunities.
Safer browsing by making sure computers have filters and internet browsing protection and redirection of UN-authorised or illegal sites should be included also to make internet browsing safer.
I prefer using a desktop or laptop for internet browsing over phone or tablet as it is easier to use - these also are very dear products and those with access to them in their homes are fortunate and priviledged.
I dream of the day that internet costs will drop, speeds increase and 100% of women in our country can be able to access these wonderful opportunities online.
Let us all Women Work together to Weave the Web!