Henderson says the news wasn’t entirely unexpected as former Foreign minister Murray McCully indicated on his last official visit to the Cook Islands early this year that New Zealand would be contributing to the cable costs.
However, he says the $15 million will be a welcome contribution to the total cost of the build, which at this stage is unknown. Also unknown is whether a contractor has been chosen to lay the cable.
Henderson says the concept for the Manatua Cable was actually initiated by the Bluesky Group last year, with business case development, high level designs and vendor capability assessments.
While Bluesky did register interest in investing in the Manatua Cable if the opportunity arose, it is no longer part of the development team.
Henderson says the concept for the Manatua Cable was actually initiated by the Bluesky Group last year, with business case development, high level designs and vendor capability assessments and it is pleasing that has now evolved into a regional initiative.
“Bluesky is no longer involved with the current phase of the project, but has registered interest in investing in the Manatua Cable if the opportunity arises.”
Once the cable system is commissioned, it will offer alternative connectivity options for Bluesky to access internet capacity and other services currently only accessible via satellite, Henderson adds.
“As far as we know, the proposed design will connect Rarotonga and Aitutaki only.
However, he says the completion of Rarotonga and Aitutaki’s submarine cable connection will not mean an end to Bluesky’s O3b satellite service.
“Satellite connectivity will remain a requirement to service the Pa Enua and as a backup to the submarine cable system.
“This an important consideration as traditionally with submarine cable failures, outages are measured in terms of weeks, therefore it is important to ensure restoration by satellite is possible.”
Henderson said there had so far been no indication of the price of connectivity for consumers using the Manatua cable, though assumptions were that it should be cheaper.
“The reduced cost will flow on to Bluesky customers as was done when O3b was used for international access. Bluesky is unable to comment on pricing until this indicated by the cable stakeholders.”
Bluesky’s current local infrastructure provided by fixed line xDSL, Fibre and Mobile 4G+ has the capability to immediately take advantage of the higher speeds of the Manatua Cable offering, adds Henderson.
“The submarine cable will enable capacity to exceed the capability of current satellites to deliver, with higher availability and quality.
“The local access infrastructure also needs to be able to support this higher speed and capability and Bluesky continues to invest in the local infrastructure to ensure this, with the recent launch of 4G+, the fastest commercially-available mobile technology.
Henderson says Bluesky also plans to begin a “fibre to the business/home” project in August.