A late shipment and extra demand created by Vaka Eiva visitors have combined to leave Telecom running low on SIM cards and calling out for help.
Telecom Cook Islands mobile customers received a text message yesterday asking them to return any old SIM (subscriber identification module) cards sitting at home.
Telecom sales and marketing manager Damien Beddoes said the company started running out of cards at the start of this week.
“We’ve had a two-month delay in our shipping, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a problem,” he said.
Telecom receives a big supply of SIM cards once a year, but prior to the shipment leaving, a number of test cards were sent up.
“Once the testing ones were sent through, changes had to be made,” Beddoes said.
Telecom recently confirmed it will be launching a 3G (Third Generation) network on Rarotonga early next year.
“The SIMs they sent through had to be configured to take 3G but when they arrived, they didn’t have the 3G provision,” Beddoes said.
The timing could not be worse, with hundreds of visitors in town for Vaka Eiva and many of them looking for a local SIM to cut costs. Beddoes said some people looking to buy a card have had to be turned away.
“We haven’t been able to meet all their demand. We’ve had tourist SIMs available but some don’t want them,” Beddoes said.
The tourist SIM cards cost $49 and come loaded with international calling minutes and texts, and a data package.
Beddoes said Telecom still has about 40 to 50 SIM cards available but the company is asking people to return their old, unused cards.
“What we did was send out a notification (via text message) to say, ‘if you’ve got old SIMs sitting at home, drop them in and we’ll give you a $10 top-up’. Then we’ll have SIMs to hand out again.”
He said Telecom is able to wipe the old SIM cards and make them ready to use again within 24 hours.
The shipment of new cards is due to arrive next week, he said.