At present, most homes and businesses have old copper wires; fibre-optic cable may be 50 times faster than Bluesky’s slower connections.
Chief executive officer Philip Henderson said 92 per cent of Rarotonga homes had broadband connections. The company had built a fibre-optic ring around the island, and had begun connecting fibre to homes and resorts.
“We have built the backbone that has all the capacity we need to deliver,” he said. “It’s the last mile, the copper network, we have started upgrading key businesses to fibre.”
When engineers talk about “the last mile”, they are referring to the slower copper connection between the ring-cable, and the homes and businesses of regular people.
“It’s modern, we are upgrading the ADSL to fibre, that’s a big step for us,” Henderson said. “Rarotonga and Aitutaki will be running fibre – Aitutaki will be done before the end of the year.”
However, he said not all homes could be connected yet, due to their locations.
“If houses are too high it’s too hard, so we have to run with ADSL (copper). The problem is there is no proper home planning, country planning, so there is a mix of copper delivery to the home.”
The 3600km Manatua Cable will run from Samoa to Tahiti, via Niue, Rarotonga and Aitutaki. It will provide a speed of up to 10 Terabytes per second – that’s 10 million megabytes a second.
Avaroa Cable Ltd is the company responsible for bringing that fibre cable ashore at Rutaki in Rarotonga and on Aitutaki, and then connecting it up to Bluesky and any other new local phone and internet providers who may enter the market.
Avaroa chief executive Ranulf Scarbrough said the connections through to retail service providers would be exclusively optical fibre.
After that, companies like Bluesky would use a mix of fibre, older copper and mobile towers to connect end users.
“To achieve the full high speed services that the cable will enable is likely to require further evolution of the local network on the islands but this is a question for Bluesky and other potential retailers,” Scarbrough said.
He welcomed Bluesky’s announcement that it was rolling out more fibre: “It’s excellent news, because that fibre means you’ve got a fast, reliable future-proofed service.”