If you were a Bluesky mobile user, you would have been one in over 12,000 to receive Vodafone Cook Island’s notification of the telecommunication service’s new name change this week.
The change took effect on Wednesday morning in a “surprise” launch, but there was mixed reaction on the streets of Avarua as vendors came to terms with the transition.
Susan Keu Arataura from Arorangi said she welcomed the new rebrand and believed it was a positive move for the changing face of the Cook Islands. “I woke up, I came to work and I heard people are talking about this change of Bluesky to Vodafone and I feel so proud.”
Vaine Nooroa said: “I wasn’t really happy by then because there wasn’t any notice given out to the people for changing everything. But I think it’s a good idea.”
Cook Islanders have been asking what difference the rebrand will make. In short, the old Bluesky will now be forced to live up to the service expectations of the international Vodafone brand that it is licensing.
But it also prefaces a battle of prices: the rebranded company is in a war of words with Avaroa Cable Ltd and has signalled that if it can get better prices and services from satellite networks than from the new undersea cable, it will.
Phillip Henderson, chief executive officer for Vodafone Cook Islands, said the launch achieved what it intended. “Brand launches are always like this so you lose the element of surprise or the wow factor. Really a change overnight is the best way to clear one brand and introduce another.”
The new brand name was acquired after meeting performance and compliance requirements for a brand-use sub-licensing agreement from its parent company Amalgamated Telecom Holdings in Fiji.
Henderson said while it carried the name Vodafone, the service itself still remained as an autonomous entity partly owned by the Government and ATH whose flagship company was Vodafone Fiji.
“We report to the board of Telecom Cook Islands which is in the division position of shareholders which is 40 per cent Government and 60 per cent private investors.”
“There’s no management control of our TCI from Vodafone global. It’s purely a branding of their sub-licensing arrangement” said Henderson.
“There’s an expectation that you will comply with the brand performance requirements to retain the brand so we’ve ticked off all the compliance boxes and we intend to maintain it there.”
Customers can expect the same services as provided under its former name, Bluesky. But Henderson hopes the Manatua One undersea cable could mean cheaper services such as data and internet plans in the future.
“It depends on Manatua’s costs which haven’t been shared yet so if Manatua comes in at a better rate then what we’re currently paying on satellite, then yes – that will be reflected in our offering. If it doesn’t then I don’t see how that can change the prices.”
Until then the service would continue to operate on the O3B satellite.
But it’s not just the new fibre cable that they’re putting their bets on for cheaper rates. Henderson says they also have their eyes on new satellite constellations OneWeb and SpaceX, expected to be online in another two years.
The Vodafone Cook Islands website is now live on vodafone.co.ck, but users can still buy bundles and check balances as normal on their Bluesky app.