Telecom MOU Signing between Samoa and American Samoa

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Samoa's MCIT Minister, Hon Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo, and ASTCA Chief Executive, Falelimu Chuck Leota. 

13 December 2022, Pago Pago, American Samoa. Collaboration between Samoa’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) and the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) was formalised last week through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

MCIT-ASTCA MOU Signing 9 December 2022.

The iniatiative has been achieved after months of collaboration and several work sessions between the two government departments, driven by the leadership of Samoa’s MCIT Minister, Hon Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo, and ASTCA Chief Executive, Falelimu Chuck Leota.

The MOU supports initiatives that ensure our engineering and broadband challenges meet the needs of our people competing in the new global digital economy.

“Samoa and American Samoa should be well connected by the latest telecommunication means and leverage our geographic proximity to our shared advantage,” said Hon Toelupe Poumulinuku.

“Working together, we can better accelerate access and the adopt tools and resources needed for our people to participate in a digital globalized economy, compacting climate change and natural disasters.”

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The Minister highlighted the importance of adopting policies that will build the capacity of our human resources for a well educated digital society.

“Where digital transformation is brought across people, society and governments through a synergistic approach. Where it will directly impact the lives of all Samoans and American Samoans by addressing some of the more pressing social-economic concerns.”

“A well-educated digital society must be achieved in order for us to succeed, and through working together, our people can benefit from each other’s strengths and more efficiently achieve digital transformation that would address many of the social-economic concerns for not just business and government, but for all of society,” adds Toelupe.

The programs outlined in the MOU aims to share resources and enhance joint efforts in broadband infrastructure, telecommunications, local engineering capacity, and network resilience.

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The MOU aims to produce tangible benefits to enhance digital equity areas of American Samoa and Samoa for staying connected and relevant in the new digital economy.

The collaboration includes a proposed submarine fiber optic cable, “to be contained by the government and not for profit, to ensure and maximise the delivery of digital equity to all people of the Samoan Archipelago, both East and West”.

ASTCA CEO Chuck Leota says the goal of the current American Samoa administration is for every resident of American Samoa to have affordable high-speed access to online information – from education to healthcare, and tools necessary to fully participate in modern demoracy and the new digital economy without having to leave American Samoa.

“These are exciting times,” says Leota. “From a policy perspective and in practical application, ASTCA and MCIT want the same thing — to raise the standard of living and quality of life for our people by ensuring they not just participate but thrive in the new global digital economy.. With the Honorable Ministers’ support, I am confident ASTCA and MCIT can lead and deliver solutions for our people to succeed.”

According to Leota, the American Samoa government wants to ensure ASTCA helps our aiga in Samoa with our excess broadband capacity from the Hawaiki cable.

Open for service in July 2018, the Hawaiki is a fibre optic cable linking Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Hawaii and the US West Coast. Being carrier-neutral and independently owned, it offers many service and cost benefits for Content and Cloud service providers, Telcos and ISPs. It boasts an unrivalled 67 Tbps of design capacity.

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The MCIT – ASTCA MOU includes the following areas of focus:

• Deployment of Submarine Cable

• For American Samoa, the cable between the American Samoa island of Tutuila and the

Samoa island of Upolu would secure the necessary redundancy of the main submarine

cable connecting American Samoa to the US mainland;

• For Samoa, the cable would bring increased, higher-quality capacity to the country and

substantially decrease costs of service and improve digital equity for its citizens;

• Microwave Backhaul Solution between Tutuila and Upolu for additional emergency telecom and broadband redundancy;

• Capacity sharing and training in knowledge, resources, and emergency inventories.