Vodafone CEO Phillip Henderson (left) and Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Ben Ponia sign a new agreement to bridge the digital divide between Rarotonga and the Pa Enua. - 22110105
The Outer Islands online connectivity is improving with authorities looking to have it on par with Rarotonga in the next six months.
Cook Islands and the Cook Islands Government have signed a new agreement to
provide upgraded 4G cellular networks.
Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown got to test the new network in Manihiki last
month when he was there with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia
networks “proof of concept” was launched in Manihiki in December.
who livestreamed part of his Manihiki trip in October, said the online
connectivity was comparable to countries like New Zealand and Australia.
“[It was] as fast as if not faster than the service here on
“It was just seamless, I
know the people on Manihiki have been enjoying it over the last few months,” he
Brown said the signing of the agreement with Vodafone marked the
beginning of efforts to “bridge the digital divide” between Rarotonga and the
A media release from the Office of the Prime Minister said the Pa
Enua Telecommunications Agreement would be rolled out over four years at a cost
$2.5 million. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the
Telecommunications Grant Funding will contribute $2.4 million.
Brown said the quality of online connectivity was a factor
considered by people thinking of living and working in the Pa Enua.
“It certainly gives them the incentive to be able to live and work
in the Pa Enua, it's just one of the critical components.”
High quality broadband would also help deliver education services
and improve medical services, Brown said.
“There is so much you can do with online applications.”
Brown said better connectivity in the Pa Enua was critical in the government
achieving the National Development Agenda and the Economic Development Strategy
which said: “Every Cook Islander has equal access to basic services and
“This digital upgrade complements the government’s new income tax
policy for the Pa Enua and will encourage our people to consider living and
working in the Pa Enua,” the PM said.
Brown said depopulation occurred when the Pa Enua was left out of
services available in Rarotonga.
“You've got to be able to deliver a level of service the
same across all the islands.
“Internet connectivity, broadband, is one that we can do
using the satellite services that Vodafone is engaged with, it's possible, and
that's why we're doing it.”
Vodafone CEO, Phillip Henderson said the outer islands would
“come online” with the new service in six months but he was confident it would
Henderson said “fibre in the sky” technology would be used
in the Pa Enua and would deliver cable like latency at 120 milliseconds.
Henderson said this was similar to the latency of the Manatua
cable that is used in Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Latency is the time delay it takes for data to travel
between the sender and the receiver. Slow latency is most noticeable in online
gaming and video calls.
Henderson said since the proof of concept was launched in
Manihiki live streaming on the island was “going gang busters”.