Tokelau achieved a new milestone in its national development and nationhood aspirations when it officially launched its 4G LTE mobile network.
Minister for Telecommunications, Mose Pelasio in his keynote address to the nation said the milestone “brings us on par in the world of modern communications.
“It is an enabler to unlock national developments on our lands and seas and I am honoured to have been part of the team that brought this to our people,” he told guests at the official launch event on Fakaofo.
The event was broadcasted to the other two islands of Nukunonu and Atafu via video on multicast.
“The 4G Mobile network is a modern Broadband ICT platform that was once a dream of our past generations is now made real by this generation.”
The network covers all three islands of the Tokelau group which has a land mass of 12 square kilometers but an ocean real estate of 518,000sq. km.
For the government of Tokelau, it views the 4G network as key to enabling government sectors responsible for essential services such as Education, Health, Commerce, Transportation as well as social economic activities to bring them up to the levels enjoyed by developed countries of the world. To bring the benefits of digital telecommunications to the people of Tokelau and its diaspora.
Teletok CEO, Tealofi Enosa said the many challenges that were overcome during the implementation and testing phases have all been worth it now that the network is up and running.
“This provides a significant improvement to our borderless communications and an historical milestone of building digital bridges between the islands and to the outside world,” he said.
The milestone comes with a number of notable achievements in respect to small island nations according to Mr. Pelasio.
“Not many countries in the world have leapfrogged the technology by taking on board the latest cutting edge version without having to go through the experiences and expensive builds of earlier generations. It was by consensus, that a jump from 2G, 2.5G and 3G straight to 4G was justified.”
He also added, “Tokelau is the first ever Pacific country, other than New Zealand and Australia, to explore the attributes and the many capabilities of a full LTE solution on Huawei latest radio equipment with significant connectivity coverage and the advance voice technology VOLTE.”
Historically, initial negotiations started on February 2015 for a 2.5G network. However, a review of the 2014 World Bank report which recommended a 3G or 4G network; and a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs support for a 3G or 4G network led to a revision of the initiative.
“Consultations carried out between my office and Teletok management, and as a result a 4G solution was selected given the fast growth of mobile generations technology,” said Mr. Pelasio. The decision was endorsed by Tokelau’s parliament, the General Fono which approved a capital injection of NZ$1.05million to the project.
In March 2016, the first construction of towers foundations and related facilities took place on the islands by Telecom Pasifika Samoa. By November 2016, engineers from 4G mobile supplier Bluearcus Technologies Inc., began the installation and testing of the system.
The other success factor of the initiative was the involvement and unanimous support from the three villages.
“All three villages played major roles providing support to build the towers and shelters. Moving forward, we must shoulder together the burden of our nature, interact well at all levels with clean and pure hearts with better coordination and respecting our departments and Nuku boundaries.
“What lies ahead is we need to reengineer a suitable ICT infrastructure on our lands, build a strong ICT capacity, continue to collaborate closely with New Zealand as the political mother of our national development, and more importantly, believe in ourselves that we can do anything holistically by upholding our our cultural values.
The show of unity and ownership during the project will be critical in the way forward, to keep the network relevant with the evolving technology and needs of Tokelau.
“Our Board with the support of New Zealand through the Office of the Administrator of Tokelau has approved other major initiatives,” revealed Mr. Pelasio.
“The fibre optic cable on land is an ongoing discussion with interested vendors while the submarine fibre optic cable is presently under review between Teletok and Wellington.”
Minister Pelasio paid special acknowledgement to the Board of Directors of Teletok, Council for the Ongoing Government, New Zealand government and the Office of the Administrator of Tokelau, Taupulega of the three villages, and Teletok.