The people of Niue are about to get a four-fold increase in internet bandwidth, plus extra capacity from a back-up satellite to protect the island’s internet connections if services from the existing satellite fail or are disrupted.
This service comes at no cost to the people or the Government of Niue who are provided with free internet services by the Internet Users Society-Niue (IUSN).
“Under the new arrangements, the guaranteed bandwidth will this week increase from 1 megabit a second to 4 megabits a second. Later this year we plan to fund an additional 2 megabits a second from an alternative satellite provider – in total, a six-fold increase in guaranteed capacity for Niue’s internet users,” says IUSN president Bill Semich.
The initial increase is coming from PacTel International, a satellite-based internet service provider that services the Pacific Islands. PacTel is also providing software that ensures that critical internet uses – such as private, business and government email, browsing and downloading from websites and social media like YouTube, FaceBook and Bebo – get priority access to the increased capacity.
Mr Semich says that more than 65 per cent of Niue’s available internet capacity has until recently been consumed by a handful of users sharing games, commercial software, movies, music and other files using “peer-to-peer” systems like RapidShare, BitTorrent and PirateBay across the internet worldwide.
“Pactel’s bandwidth management software will still allow some peer-to-peer use through the satellite pipe, but it will give priority to the needs of the majority of users,” he says.
Now that it has quadrupled the bandwidth on the island and has better control over bandwidth allocation, IUSN will be extending WiFi connections to some of Niue’s outer villages, says Emani Lui, co-owner of Rocket Systems, IUSN’s internet services operator in Niue.
“Villagers have been waiting to get online for some time,” he says. “We thank them for their patience.”
To further improve the quality and reliability of its internet services, IUSN is upgrading its infrastructure on the island. A larger satellite dish (4.5 m instead of the current 2.4 m) and a much more powerful satellite transmitter (40 W instead of today’s 5 W) are being installed.
Tuvalu Telecom Corporation selected PacTel earlier this year to install a 2.5 G GSM mobile phone system, which, according to Tuvalu Telecom “has allowed the company’s customers to access normal mobile services at very competitive rates.”
IUSN is a private US-based charitable foundation established in 1997 which uses revenue generated by registrations of the .NU domain name to fund free or least-cost internet services in Niue, as well as infrastructure development and skills transfer, technical education, and other internet-related activities in education, medical services, and community cultural activities in Niue.
IUSN: Link coming soon.
PacTel International: www.pactelint.com
Timeline of historical increases in free internet bandwidth provided by IUSN:
June 1997 – May 1999: Local dial-up modem connections to mail server in Niue, with a call-back Niue-to-NZ “store and forward” email server using international per-minute tariffed phone service via Telecom Niue and a 14.4 Kbps modem;
June 1999 – July 2003: Initial launch of Niue’s first ever digital Internet service, using a Digital Frame Relay connection via Telecom Niue: Bandwidth between Niue and New Zealand, 64 Kbps guaranteed, 128 Kbps maximum;
August, 2003 – May 2006: Increased to 256 Kbps guaranteed bandwidth, via Pacific Teleports;
June 2006 – June 2008: Increased to 512 Kbps guaranteed, 1 Mbps maximum bandwidth, Pacific Teleports;
July 2008 – February 2010: Increased to 1 Mbps guaranteed, 2 Mbps maximum bandwidth, Pacific Teleports;
March 2010: Increased to 4 Mbps guaranteed, Pacific Teleports, including new bandwidth management technology;
Late 2010: Add service from an alternate provider to include up to an additional 2 Mbps guaranteed.
Mid 2010 – 2011: Continue expansion of WiFi services to outer villages and currently-connected areas with additional connectivity requirements.