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Cook Islands schools to get wired broadband

Schools in the Cook Islands, which have been relying on satellite connectivity for teaching and learning, will get access to wired broadband via two Pacific submarine cables over the next three years

Some 30 schools in the Cook Islands will get access to wired broadband to support teaching and learning over the next three years, paving the way for a better and more stable user experience across all education premises in the South Pacific nation.

The initiative is spearheaded by Ministry of Education Cook Islands (MoE) in collaboration with Avaroa Cable (ACL), Ciena, BW Digital and Vodafone Cook Islands. Ciena will cover the costs of ongoing maintenance and support services for the project, while the connectivity to the schools will leverage the existing Hawaiki and Manatua submarine cables.

Some Cook Islands schools had previously relied on satellite services for internet connectivity, particularly those in the outer islands. The connectivity was often slow or unreliable due to high usage, especially during school hours, making it difficult for students and teachers to access online resources and communications platforms that require high-bandwidth capacity.

The switch from satellite services to submarine cable-based broadband connectivity for Rarotonga and Aitutaki is expected to provide a better and more stable user experience.

Danielle Tungane Cochrane, head of the MoE, said as more teaching and assessments are digitised and delivered online, having improved connectivity will enable its schools, as well as tertiary and vocational education providers, to deliver quality education.

“The MoE looks forward to working more closely with our ACL, BW Digital, Ciena and Vodafone Cook Island colleagues to ensure all considerations have been successfully applied to allow for a seamless transition when ready,” she said.

Ivan Polizzi, regional managing director of Ciena Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, noted that while connecting the Pacific Islands via submarine cables is no easy task, the collaboration is a step forward to improve digital connectivity for the next generation of Cook Islanders.

Ludovic Hutier, CEO of BW Digital, noted that submarine cables have become a fundamental enabler of socioeconomic progress across the Pacific, citing the groundbreaking HoloCampus 3D telepresence learning platform launched four years ago in American Samoa. “The Cook Islands project is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when technological leaders join forces to better serve our community,” he said.

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