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COOK ISLES’ MANIHIKI ATOLL GETS HIGH SPEED INTERNET Follows Aitutaki and Atiu with access to broadband

By Helen Greig

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 8, 2008) - Manihiki Member of Parliament Apii Piho is rapt that his island is the first in the northern group to have broadband internet technology installed.

A dozen Manihiki subscribers now have the new higher speed Internet service.

Two Telecom Cook Islands technicians from Rarotonga traveled to the island recently to install the service and train the Telecom staff at the Manihiki office. The only other outer islands to have broadband are Aitutaki and Atiu.

[PIR editor’s note: Manihiki, said to be the most beautiful atoll in the Cook Islands, is also noted for its black pearls. It is a triangular atoll 721 miles north of Rarotonga where polynesians are believed to have lived for hundreds of years. Manihiki sits atop an underwater mountain rising 4,000 meters above the ocean floor. Its stunning 4 km-wide lagoon is laced with 40 tiny motu (islets), which are strung along the reef.]

In Rarotonga, the bandwidth offered is 256 kbps. In the outer islands speeds ranging from 56 kbps to 128 kbps are available, with prices starting from NZ$30 [US$24] a month for the service. There are currently 228 business broadband customers and 742 residential customers. Telecom’s IT manager Robert McFadzien says they are actively pursuing additional bandwidth to cater for user demands.

"Telecom is well aware of the benefits that broadband technology brings to its customers and will continue to invest in the product and its quality of service, with the outer islands included."

TCI’s broadband plans have improved over time in terms of cost and speed.

Piho says the new broadband service will help connect locals, some of whom live on small coral outcrops called kaoa, to the outside world.

TCI general manager Ngatama Aniterea says he is pleased Manihiki now has access to broadband.

"Mangaia is the next island that will enjoy broadband. The project has already been approved by the TCI board. Telecom is hoping that all the outer islands people have access to broadband in the near future."

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