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Local distribution network slows internet

29 Sep, 2021

Lyon, owner of Pacific Divers and the Rarotongan Sailing Club said he’s been forced to deal with varying internet speeds, video calls cutting out and poor connection during bad weather.

He said the poor internet service had affected his work which relies on video meetings via Zoom, and live streaming sports for Sailing Club guests.

Lyon said; “it's a whole collection of issues that should have been resolved when we had the Manatua cable set up.”

He said Vodafone had not been transparent when he’s confronted the company about his problems.

“Without transparency it's really hard to understand what’s going on, all we know if the service is poor,” he said.

The Manatua cable is a submarine fibre communications cable connecting Cook Islands with other South Pacific nations and is capable of delivering enough internet speed to download 300 high definition moves every second.

Lyon said steps should be put in place by the government to ensure the cable can be fully utilised.

“It's a key part of our infrastructure and it should be delivering much, much better services," he said.

Competition and regulatory authority chair, Bernard Hill regulates telecommunication services in the Cook Island which includes Vodafone.

He said the existing distribution network, made up primarily of copper wires but also ultra fibre cables and wireless connections, was the reason behind slow internet speeds.

“The cable only comes to the beach and what happens after the beach is the existing distribution network,” he said.

“It's what they (internet service providers) call the last mile, the local distribution, it's the bottleneck.”

Hill said there is “tonnes” of data capacity both on the cable and O3B but it all has to go through the narrow bottleneck of the distribution network.

He said the problem was practical but had no quick solution."You can't wave a magic wand and it all of a sudden happens.”

Earlier this month Vodafone Cook Islands chief executive Phillip Henderson said the company aimed to put internet speeds on par with New Zealand in 18 months, by upgrading Aitutaki and Rarotonga’s distribution network to fibre.

Parts of Rarotonga are already connected to the fibre network which includes the islands largest resorts The Edgewater and The Rarotongan.

Henderson said although Vodafone could offer comparable performance to New Zealand it would be more expensive.

Hill suggested for people to try the competition if they were displeased with their current internet service.

He said new internet service provider Kuk i Net, gets its broadband from Kacific satellite which bypasses Vodafone’s current distribution network.

He said Kuk i Net could be used in the interim until the distribution network was upgraded.

[Wednesday 29 September 2021 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Cook Islands News]