Digicel Play For Telecom Cook Island Part Of Regional Plan

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Company looking to develop ‘Pan-Pacific network’

By Ben Chapman-Smith

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March 25, 2014) – Digicel’s play at Telecom Cook Islands is as part of a bigger plan by the company to develop a Pan-Pacific network.

Frank O’Carroll, Vice President of Business Development, was in the country last week meeting with Telecommunications Minister Mark Brown, Financial Secretary Richard Neves and others.

Digicel is thought to be in the final stages of negotiations with Telecom New Zealand to buy its 60 per cent stake in Telecom Cook Islands.

O’Carroll told CINews that Digicel is uniquely placed in terms of its focus on island nations. "There are no other telecommunications companies in the world that have such an interest in small, developing island nations."

He said the company already has a presence in six Pacific nations and is ultimately working towards having a pan-Pacific network.

"There are a number of others (countries) on the radar that we’re targeting," O’Carroll said.

Digicel is based in Jamaica but has a sister operation in the Pacific, where it operates in Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji and Nauru.

If Digicel does move into the Cook Islands – claiming its seventh Pacific market – it would be looking to make its mark promptly, O’Carroll said.

"We tend to move very quickly and introduce huge changes and new products."

He said Digicel’s reputation for entering new markets strongly is not unfounded.

"We would make no bones or apologise that we are seen as aggressive. In many countries we have had to come in and fight."

O’Carroll said the company would approach the Cook Islands looking to put an "enormous" amount of money into education, health and sports.

"There’s a great opportunity for a new telco like Digicel in the Cook Islands."

He also said Digicel would be committed to serving the outer islands, although the company is aware that market has been unprofitable for Telecom.

If Digicel does buy in it will get a state-of-the art network that includes O3b’s satellite service and 3G for mobiles.

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