[it wire] Telecom Cook Islands has signed a contract with O3b Networks for the provision of 155Mbps of bandwidth for Internet connectivity via O3b's yet to be launched medium earth orbit satellites.
Jules Maher, CEO of Telecom Cook Islands, said: "This new facility will radically improve broadband service in the Cook Islands with the potential to stimulate the economy and benefit all Cook Islanders…It will open up all sorts of opportunities to the residents and businesses of the country." The service is due to be operational in mid 2012."
John Finney, O3b Networks' EVP global sales and marketing, said: "We are very pleased that Telecom Cook Islands has decided to enter the agreement with us and to become our first customer in the region."
Telecom Cook Islands is the largest provider of telecommunications in the Cook Islands. It is a private company owned by Telecom New Zealand (60 percent) and the Cook Islands Government (40 percent). It provides local, national and international telecommunications as well as Internet access on all populated islands.
The Cook Islands have a permanent population of approximately 15,000 citizens, and host about 100,000 annual visitors.
O3b came on the scene in 2008 and initially promised to have its satellites launched by 2010.
It is backed by Google, Liberty Global and HSBC and plans to launch a multi-satellite network that will deliver "fibre performance over satellite at prices comparable to fibre" enabling ISPs and telcos in developing nations to deliver "cost-effective voice and broadband services at speeds equivalent to those enjoyed in the developed world."
Its satellites are designed to provide backhaul from local Internet access networks, generally wireless, rather than direct access for end users. The Cook Islands will be served by a single beam 600kms in radius.
At one time the company was lobbying aggressively for a role in Australia's National Broadband Network. Greg Wyler, founder and then CEO of O3b Networks, told the Senate Enquiry into the NBN in late 2009 that the round trip delay inherent in geostationary satellite systems made them unsuitable for providing broadband services to those Australians beyond the reach of the National Broadband Network's fibre.
Vint Cerf - Internet elder statesman and now a vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google - has urged the administrations of Pacific Island nations to collaborate to boost Internet access via satellite.
In a video posted on YouTube in mid 2008 Cerf said: "Access to Internet is such a huge challenge in the Pacific...we are forced to make use of satellite which is not inexpensive and it has been my belief that a collaboration to make bulk purchase for access to satellite capacity with landings in the various islands could be very beneficial."
Cook Islands to get 155Mbps to the Internet, via O3b satellite