Foundation digs deep for free Niue internet service

More than $NZ4 million has been invested in Internet Niue since it was set up in 1999 by American internet entrepreneur Bill Semich and former Peace Corps volunteer Richard St Clair.

Internet Niue says it is facing ever-increasing satellite connection fees as customers make more use of the rapidly growing range of services available on the internet. In its 2010 Annual Report the service says the $214,738 paid in fees during 2010 was the equivalent of $147 a head for each citizen on the island.

Internet access, which is free to customers once they have paid for a connection, is funded by grants from the US-based IUSN Foundation, which has the right to market .nu domain names internationally.

Foundation chairman Hon Frank Lui says this is a unique arrangement that serves the island’s internet community well.

“It’s not easy to provide an efficient internet service on a remote and rugged tropical island. But more than 90 per cent of our population has access to our service either at home and/or at work,” he says.

“In my opinion Internet Niue is something for the people of Niue to be proud of.”

During 2010, the Foundation’s on-island service provider RockET Systems Limited connected the villages of Mutulau, Makefu, Tamakautonga and Vaiea to the internet. Only three villages on the island remain to be connected – a task that will be completed in the next few months.

RockET director Emani Fakaotimanava-Lui says more families are signing up to the internet as soon as the service arrives in their village. He puts this down to connection kits becoming more affordable.

A full home installation for all-you-can eat internet now costs $450 to $500. For some users in the capital of Alofi, WiFi signals are strong enough to allow them to connect using the wireless cards in their laptops, which means they only need to pay $25 for an access code.

The Annual Report shows Internet Niue’s annual operating expenditure peaked at $NZ726,809 in 2010 and that total spending since 1999 has reached $4,191,884. Big year-to-year fluctuations reflect the profitability and investment needs of the .nu domain sales business, as well as the needs of Internet Niue, the report says.

Technical charts in the report show that customers are making increasing use of Internet Niue’s satellite bandwidth, despite a quadrupling of capacity during 2010.

The report notes that the maximum bandwidth of 4 megabits per second will sound small to users in larger countries that have fibre optic cables connecting them to the world. Niue, like many other small Pacific nations, relies on very expensive satellite connections.

To read the Annual Report click here.


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Wow! IUSN has now invested more than $NZ4m in Internet Niue

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