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Te Tuhi Kelly: Looking outside the box to be connected

Saturday 15 July 2023 | Written by Te Tuhi Kelly | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Te Tuhi Kelly: Looking outside the box to be connected
There is a growing awareness of Starlink, Te Tuhi Kelly writes. 23071418

Here’s a what if. In the Cook Islands the main internet provider is Vodafone with other ISP’s snapping at the heels and the crumbs left on the table, writes Te Tuhi Kelly.

In come’s this Starlink new kid on the block and maintains that with his LEO satellites passing every which way over the Cook Islands, means that even though there is no licence to operate, if one has the kit, one can connect and choose the service that the citizen wants to pay for.

They are doing this in droves world-wide.

Many of us are helping them through our Starlink FB pages, and remote villages in places like Asia, Pakistan and Africa will soon have Starlink with or without regulatory permission.

They can’t wait, they are banding together to buy and activate Starlink.

An educated citizenship is a well informed and happy one, and Starlink opens opportunities for themselves and their families especially in dictatorship regimes.

Musk has always been clear in why he has Starlink, the global village citizenry needs and wants to be connected, and he has waited for years for other telcos to run with this, instead they have closed shop and monopolised the world’s ability for everyone to be connected and made trillions of dollars thank you very much.

Remember mobile number portability?

Instead, we got data roaming at a cost of billions of dollars into their pockets and no number portability in sight.

Pssst, simless phones are coming, that’s another story.

If you are out in the boonies, read that as mountains, deserts, valleys, ocean (Pa Enua), rivers, and all sorts of remote locales, he wants you to be able to connect.

He is not in the business of placing restrictions on connectivity.

Unless and until the bricks and mortar telco’s get this through their dinosaur heads, they will be playing catch up or will fall.

What does one do if you are for arguments sake the main local telco and Starlink is making slow but sure inroads into a very much monopolistic internet territory that you have had, and despite legislative changes that are supposed to remove such monopolies and competition.

You either suck it up and sharpen your pencil, buy out the competition, use takeovers, apply pressure, or baby cry to the regulator, or see if you can somehow influence to block to restrict or bar access to your citizen transmissions.

Now consider this, if you could influence to block transmissions to the Cook Islands, I think you would be in serious trouble under the updated telecommunications Act, by utilising an anti-competitive action to shore up your business model.

You and Starlink would in effect be discriminating against a section of New Zealanders, after all, we are all New Zealanders by virtue of our NZ passports, and with those passports goes some fundamental human rights that we have.

New Zealanders can buy Starlink, it is available, it is available to us as New Zealanders and the fact that we live in the Cook Islands, makes no difference to Starlink by virtue of us being a subset of New Zealand with NZ passports.

Further, it seems a wasted effort to block transmissions of those LEO satellites as they leave designated orbital space from NZ (whatever that is) over the Pacific Islands and then unblock as they enter USA/South America orbital space.

Also, considering the needs of those countries bordering the Pacific Ocean who can get coverage either directly overhead or by some transmission leakages to the sides over the Pacific Ocean.

If this was to be blocked, they would be disgruntled and considering those who are on marine or global Roaming across the Pacific Ocean, thousands of connections, would be mightily unhappy and Starlink would be in breach of their service delivery contracts.

An emergency arises on the ocean, and you have marine roaming and no other way to contact the mainland for support or assistance, I wouldn’t want to be Starlink and have blocked their signal for help in a life-or-death situation.

Also consider that under the United Nations the right to internet access in summary is:

The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights, that states have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available, and that states may not unreasonably restrict an individual's access to the Internet.

Who in their right mind would try and influence to block Starlink transmissions into the Cook Islands if they go down this road, while removing our human rights and in contravention of the Constitution of the Cook Islands as regards freedom of expression, comment, opinion which is sacrosanct human rights and freedom from discrimination. You would have to be ignorant, bereft of any initiatives to counter the Starlink influence apart from trying to bring the hammer down. You would have a fight on your hands, an international incident on the open sea because they could not call for help and a please explain to your board why you are being sued.

 Te Tuhi Kelly of the Progressive Party


Corey Numa on 17/07/2023

PS - Sim free phones are already in market. Kids use unlimited data from Starlink to connect with friends via apps, not telco's. The business model from existing telco's that underpinned their success, needs to adapt to new market trends and needs in order to survive. "Think improving customer processes for tourists purchasing data blocks or offering Cook Islanders digital solutions to embrace the new technology"... There is countless other ways to generate profit for the Govt. / telco sector. Think digital business hubs, streaming sports & entertainment services, International business meetings & conferences that can take place knowing IT works...