‘Mobile connectivity and affordability in the Pacific’ was prepared by Kiwi consultancy Network Strategies, at the request of Telecom Cook Islands, BlueSky Samoa and Federate States of Micronesia Telecommunications Corporation.
Network Strategies examined monthly cost based on three levels of mobile use: low-level, typical prepaid and SMS(text)-based use.
For low-level mobile use - 30 calls and 100 text messages per month - the cheapest deals are in Solomon Islands, Tonga, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Timor.
Telecom Cook Islands’ best price of $27.90 per month was the 15th most expensive offered by the 21 telecommunications providers in the study.
In the typical prepaid use section - 40 calls and 60 text messages per month - the Cook Islands also ranked down the list at 16th, with the best plan priced at $37.70 per month.
On a more positive note, the Cook Islands had the cheapest plan ($15.55 per month) for text-based use of eight calls and 400 text messages.
The country also ranked highly (4th out of 17) for the price of low-level mobile data usage, which includes 100MB of browsing, 30 calls and 100 text messages per month.
Network Strategies then examined the prices in terms of their affordability - the percentage of average monthly income a person spends on mobile services.
Telecom Cook Islands’ prices are consistently among the most affordable in the region for all three categories of mobile use.
However, James Webb, Economic Advisor for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, said the best way of comparing costs is to look at the prices in hard dollar terms, not affordability.
“The reason we show up so well in terms of affordability is because our income levels are higher than most other Pacific island countries, despite our small market. When we look at actual dollar prices, some things will be more expensive and some things will be cheaper here than elsewhere – if you are a heavy phone user, the prices will tend to be higher.”
He said the report shows the Cook Islands is one of the more expensive countries for calling rates but for text and data, we’re one of the cheapest.
Before leaving the company last week, outgoing Telecom Chief Executive Jules Maher said he was pleased with the results of the report.
“Considering our tiny population we actually compare very well with our larger and richer Pacific neighbours like the French territories. I consider the most sensible comparison is the “affordability” because it compares apples with apples.”