Emerging satellite technology may offer internet users in the Pa Enua comparable connectivity with their Manatua cable-connected counterparts in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, industry stakeholders say.
Government is expecting a large-scale tech transformation with the 3800 kilometre-long Manatua cable.
The entire country is being serviced by a group of satellites known as O3b, however next generation technology – known as “O3b mPower” – will offer outer island residents comparable speeds to cable, according to one insider.
John Turnbull, the Australian and Pacific director of SES – O3b satellite operator partnered with Vodafone Cook Islands to provide internet connectivity – said: “O3b’s next generation of satellites looks to offer greater efficiencies and performance that is much more comparable to cable.”
Turnbull said this will be a “step-change” for the Pa Enua.
“We are proud to be able to provide all of the Cook Islands with the same low latency, high throughput quality of experience as the people on Rarotonga and Aitutaki,” he said.
“Satellites will continue to be a key link in providing connectivity to remote communities such as those in the outer islands, given its ability to reach practically any point on earth.”
Phillip Henderson, chief executive officer of Vodafone Cook Islands, also said satellite will continue to be the most cost-effective means to deliver connectivity to the sparsely-population Pa Enua.
“O3b’s next generation of satellites looks to offer greater efficiencies and performance that is much more comparable to cable,” he said.
Chief executive officer Ranulf Scarbrough of Manatua cable operator, Avaroa Cable Ltd (ACL), acknowledged satellite will continue to provide connectivity to Pa Enua residents, however, he said the new technology remains unproven.
“They are high risk endeavours involving investment in excess of US$10 billion per system and, crucially, pricing is yet to be published. It is too early to say whether they will be successful,” Scarbrough said.
The idea of potentially connecting the outer islands with undersea cable is being considered and warrants further study, he added.
“In Avaroa Cable Ltds’ view, this is worth evaluating in more detail,” said Scarbrough.