A class act in the Cook Islands

A class act in the Cook Islands

Avaroa, BW Digital, Ciena and Vodafone Cook Islands team up to provide E-learning options through improve connectivity. 

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

The initiative is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Cook Islands (MoE) and leverages existing Hawaiki (now owned by BW Digital) and Manatua submarine cables. Ciena’s support includes the installation of Ciena 5160 Service Aggregation Switches in the Cook Islands and Sydney to accelerate delivery of connectivity services.

Ciena will also cover all costs for ongoing maintenance and support services for the duration of the project.

With some Cook Islands’ schools previously solely reliant upon satellite services for Internet connectivity, significantly those in the Pa Enua (outer islands), they 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.

 The switch 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. 

“Having improved and strengthened connectivity for our schools will revolutionize the teaching and learning experience for each of our education sectors. We are seeing more and more of our teaching and assessment opportunities being digitized or delivered online and 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,” said Danielle Tungane Cochrane, Head of Ministry, Ministry of Education Cook Islands.

“ACL is proud to work with our partners on this initiative which supports the Cook Islands Government’s policy for ICT in education to assist in creating a skilled workforce and facilitate social mobility. Effectively, this CSR project will strengthen ICT integration in education, which can yield multiple benefits; enhancing student learning through online platforms and digital devices; providing opportunities for students and learners living in isolated communities, improving the capacity of teachers to utilize ICT in the classroom, and improving the efficiency in which schools deliver education services. E-learning programs will enable students and teachers living in the Cook Islands most isolated communities to gain quick, easy access to education that would otherwise not be so economical,” said Mike Schwarz, Chief Executive Officer, ACL.

“Connecting the Pacific Islands via submarine cables is no easy task. This collaboration is an important step forward to help improve digital connectivity for the next generation of Cook Islanders and is testament to the tenacity and mutual goodwill of all the teams involved in this important project,” said Ivan Polizzi, Regional Managing Director, Ciena Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. 

Ludovic Hutier, CEO, BW Digital said: “Pacific Islands’ connectivity has been at the heart of Hawaiki cable since its inception. 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.”

Hutier said 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 better serve our community,” he said.

Phillip Henderson, CEO, Vodafone Cook Islands, said: “Vodafone Cook Islands has been a long-standing strategic partner with the Ministry of Education and has keen investment interest in the future of education in the Cook Islands.

“With the increasing shift towards ed-tech and online learning, it has been a pleasure to work closely with the MOE, Avaroa Cable and Hawaiki Cable to bring this initiative of delivering improved Internet capacity to the MOE and all the schools in the Cook Islands.”

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