The Manatua One fibre cable being pulled ashore at Rutaki, Raratonga in January. (PHOTO: AVAROA CABLE). 20010730
Four new local internet operators have been granted licences in a bid to improve services and provide competition to Vodafone Cook Islands.
Competition and Regulatory Authority last week issued
Internet Service Provider Network Operator Licences to Kuk i Net Ltd, ICT Nexus
Ltd, AYA Ltd, and ManaNet Ltd.
And Bernard Hill, the chair of the Authority, says they are
expecting to issue more licences in the near future.
“There is no limit on the number of such licensees, and the
Authority is expecting others to apply,” Hill said.
He said the licence authorises the provision of all kinds of
local internet access service, to Cook Islands consumers, businesses, and other
organisations, anywhere in the country.
However, Hill said the licence does not permit the provision
of standard telephone services using telephone numbers on a public fixed or
mobile network interconnected with other local and international networks.
“It does permit the installation and operation of the
telecommunications network assets and facilities necessary to provide local
internet access but does not require the licensee to provide internet service
availability at large, or at specified geographic locations,” he said.
“The assignment of radio spectrum and the deployment of any
apparatus requiring specific approval are subject to separate authorisation.”
The licenses were issued after the local companies presented
details of their investors and directors and satisfied the regulator that they
can comply with the statutory requirements.
Hill said he was pleased to see these companies choosing to
partner with overseas firms.
“Previous experience and technical expertise in wireless
radiocommunications and the delivery of internet services is essential in my
view, and experience elsewhere in the Pacific is especially valuable from a
customer point of view.
“This interest from offshore is also a strong signal of
confidence in the country’s long-term future.”
Ranulf Scarbrough, the chief executive of Avaroa Cable Ltd,
welcomed the issuing of these retail licences to new internet operators, saying
it would bring competition to the telecommunication industry.
Avaroa Cable is a state-owned fiber optic operator providing
managed wholesale connectivity services to and between the Cook Islands.
Dr Scarbrough said: “Competition in the telecommunications
market that these licences enable is a key pillar of the government's
telecommunications policy, alongside the Manatua Cable, the new
telecommunications and competition legislation passed last December, and the
establishment of a regulator.”
He confirmed that Avaroa Cable Ltd have been in discussion
with a number of organisations interested in becoming network operators in the
“From the start, we have designed our products, services and
pricing with these new market entrants in mind in order to minimise the
barriers to market entry,” Scarbrough said.
“It’s not an easy time to start a new operator but we are
confident that ACL (Avaroa Cable Ltd) and the Manatua Cable will play a big role
in helping these new operators to flourish and for the benefits of the cable
and competition to be enjoyed by Cook Islanders in Rarotonga and Aitutaki.”
Bernard Hill said it was up to the new licensees “to
announce what their intentions are concerning the scope of the services they
want to offer and where and when service will be available”.
At least one company – Kuk i Net Ltd – had already started
advertising their packages before they were granted the licence.
The company, headed by local broadcaster William Framhein,
was officially launched a week ago.
Kuk i Net, who is promising uncapped data deals to
residential and commercial users, plans to provide internet using satellite
broadband technology from Kacific Satellite Services.