Avaroa, BW Digital, Ciena, and Vodafone Cook Islands bring connectivity to local schools

Sept. 25, 2023
The new initiative is designed to bridge the digital divide for students in the South Pacific.

Avaroa Cable Limited (ACL), Ciena, BW Digital, and Vodafone Cook Islands (Vodafone) are collaborating to improve connectivity for students in the Cook Islands’ 30 schools for the next three years (2023-2026).

Leveraging existing Hawaiki (now owned by BW Digital) and Manatua submarine cables, the new initiative is being conducted through a partnership with the Ministry of Education Cook Islands (MoE).

Ciena will provide its 5160 Service Aggregation Switches in the Cook Islands and Sydney to accelerate the delivery of connectivity services. The vendor will also cover all costs for ongoing maintenance and support services for the project's duration.

Enhancing learning capabilities

Before this project was devised, some Cook Islands’ schools relied solely on satellite services for internet connectivity; significantly those in the Pa Enua (outer islands), could not meet the service demands required for today’s learning needs.

Connectivity was often slow or unreliable due to high usage, especially during school hours. This makes it difficult for students and teaching staff to access online resources and communication platforms that require high bandwidth capacity. Switching to submarine cable-based broadband connectivity for Rarotonga and Aitutaki from satellite services will enable a better and more stable user experience across all education premises, supporting the Cook Islands’ educational institutions as they embrace digital learning.

Danielle Tungane Cochrane, head of ministry, Ministry of Education Cook Islands, said that the speed bandwidth capabilities this project will enable are necessary to improve the education experience for teachers and students.

“We are seeing more and more of our teaching and assessment opportunities being digitized or delivered online,” she said. “Having a dedicated and sustainable platform for our schools including our tertiary and vocational providers will mean we can confidently continue to deliver a quality education system. 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.”

Submarine cable's key role

This latest project highlights how vital submarine cable systems like BW Digital’s Hawaiki and Manatua submarine cables are crucial to providing broadband services to the hard-to-reach Pacific Islands.

“We are proud to participate in this initiative, which will further bridge the digital divide in the South Pacific and empower Cook Islands students to learn and grow in a mature digital environment,” said Ludovic Hutier, CEO of BW Digital.

Hutier added that submarine cables have become a fundamental enabler of socio-economic 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 serve our community better.”

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