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Isolated Cook Islands to be connected by new SES satellites

O3b mPower Cook Islands.jpg

Vodafone Cook Islands is to use the new O3b mPower satellites, launched a few days ago, to extend its 4G services across the islands.

The company, which has a brand licensing arrangement with Vodafone Fiji and the Vodafone group, said commercial services from the new satellites ae expected to begin in the third quarter of 2023.

Phillip Henderson, CEO at Vodafone Cook Islands, said: “We are glad to continue partnering with SES to bring the second-generation MEO satellite constellation O3b mPower to the Cook Islands, helping to improve connectivity to the outer islands and further contribute to the islands’ socioeconomic growth.”

The independent nation, 3,000km north-east of New Zealand, has a population of just 17,000 people spread over 15 islands.

The Cook Islands community already uses the earlier generation of SES’s O3b medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites, especially before the landing of the Manatua Cable in 2020.

The first two of the new generation, the O3b mPower satellites, were successfully launched into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Friday evening US Eastern Time.

SES said that it plans an initial 11 powerful satellites, each equipped with more than 5,000 digitally formed beams.

Key customers that have signed up for O3b mPower include Microsoft, Princess Cruises, Marlink, Jio Platforms, Orange, Claro Brasil and the newly-announced Vodafone Cook Islands.

Steve Collar, CEO of SES, said: “Whether we are enabling governments to carry out critical missions securely, cruise operators to provide high-speed broadband access to passengers at all times, or mobile network operators to deploy 4G/5G networks in under-connected areas or restore communications networks in down time, O3b mPower is the satellite system of choice for applications where performance matters most.”

He added: “Today marks the next milestone of our MEO journey.”