Barring any unforeseen or unexpected event, the island’s major communications provider Telecom Niue, will have their 4G network up and running by June, according to General Manager Colin Talamahina. Already the tower at Kaho in Avatele is nearing completion; the top half of the structure is awaiting the availability of heavy plant before the work can continue. Once the tower is up Telecom Niue’s own technicians will proceed with installing the equipment.
The second tower to be erected will be at the village of Lakepa.
“While we’ve had overseas riggers help the local staff with the towers, the installation of the equipment will be carried out by our own local staff”, said Mr Talamahina. The towers is being funded by New Zealand with Niue meeting the cost for the riggers.
By sometime next week Telecom engineers will be conducting initial tests from Kaho to determine the effects of foliage attenuation; data obtain from this will assist engineers in selecting the appropriate frequency to use. Foliage attenuation describes the effect that lush and heavy tropical growth can have in absorbing and blocking radio waves.
Telecom is expecting the signal from Kaho to be picked up at Mutalau, but even if this is intermittent it doesn’t matter because another tower is going up in Lakepa. Work on pouring the footings for this is already underway. When all the work is completed there will be three transmission towers – Kaho, Lakepa and Seikena – more than sufficient to cover the whole island.
Apart from being able to use your cellphone for making calls from anywhere on the island, it also means that if you have a 4G capable smartphone, you have access to the Internet. If you venture off-shore in your vaka, you should be able to call your home whether you’re at Tepa or Liha and even if you happen to be 5km out.
4G phones will use more power so make sure you are fully charged before going to sea. If your mobile is power hungry, consider turning it off until you are ready to use and/or don’t run too many applications. Mobiles and sea water don’t generally like each other so keep it in a dry place or inside a plastic bag.
Compared to the older 3G network, 4G is much faster by around 10 times. When you are operating from a stationary position or when you are moving slowly, like in walking/running, it will operate at its fastest. When traveling in a bus/car, the speed is automatically downgraded but still fast. The other downside to having fast speed is that your phone will use more power, and your cap can be used up earlier, hence can be more costly, especially when you are using the mobile as a hotspot.
If all this seems like gobbledegook don’t fret. Telecom Niue will do a special roadshow in the villages in due course.
While the current attention is on the 4G network, there is also the marine cable which is expected to make our shores in 2020 according to Colin Talamahina.
“There was a brief period of hiatus there but I’m happy to say that we’re now back on track”.
The new cable named Manatua will run between Tahiti and Samoa with branching units to Niue, Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Borabora. It’s understood that Manatua will connect to the existing Honotua cable that runs between Tahiti and Honolulu.
At this stage it is a given that Manatua will provide a much faster rate of communications with an increased bandwidth and at a lower cost. Whether this lower cost will pass on to the consumers remains to be seen. Past experience has shown that low density traffic will always attract a high tariff.