Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi talking to Lagi Keresoma in the weekly news briefing with Talamua.com
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 01 SEPTEMBER 2017: The American Samoa Government’s interest and future involvement in the Tui Samoa submarine cable is on the table when the two Samoa’s leaders meet in Apia next week.
In his weekly news briefing with Talamua.com Wednesday this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said that American Samoa’s Governor Lolo Moliga has requested a sit down meeting between the two leaders to discuss the outstanding issue during the Pacific Forum Leaders meeting in Apia next week.
This follows media reports that the American Samoa Government, (ASG) has changed its mind and will now sign up with Samoa’s new undersea fiber optic cable, Tui Samoa now planned to be launched this coming December.
“But until it is officially inked on paper, it’s all talk,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi told Lagi Keresoma of Talamua.com.
And Tuilaepa is looking forward to meeting Governor Lolo to clarify any outstanding questions that the territorial government may have.
ASG had previously indicated its reservations to be part of the Tui-Samoa Cable growing family.
But this week, the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (A.S.T.C.A.) Chairman of the Board and Interim C.E.O, Puleleiite Tufele Li’a Jr., told the Talanei News Agency in the territory that ASG is committed to take up Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s invitation.
Talanei News Agency quotes Puleleiite as saying that the capacity of the existing American Samoa Hawaii Cable is maxed out and going with Samoa’s Tui Samoa cable is the fastest solution to the bandwidth problem.
“The reason why internet service is slow now is because there’s not enough bandwidth,” he told Talanei.
“Currently A.S.T.C.A. has only 500 plus megabytes of bandwidth: 400 from O3 B network and 145 megabytes from the American Samoa Hawaii Cable, whose capacity is just 1 gigabyte shared by Samoa and American Samoa.
“The Tui Samoa cable will provide 10 gigabytes. Once they go live, the idea is to get capacity there until we get more capacity once Hawaiki lands in mid-2018.”
Last February, Prime Tuilaepa made a formal proposal to the American Samoa Government to be a partner in building a new American Samoa to Samoa submarine cable. Details of the proposed partnership are contained in a February 20th letter from Tuilaepa to Governor Lolo inviting American Samoa to take advantage of the Tui Samoa and Southern Cross cables.
“In the spirit of building stronger Samoan partnerships, I now wish to formally tender Samoa’s formal proposal to partner with American Samoa to build a new American Samoa –Samoa submarine cable (SAS2) in order to allow our American Samoan aiga to benefit from the Tui Samoa Cable/Southern Cross network to provide direct access to the United States mainland,” wrote the Prime Minister.
He added that the Tui Samoa Cable would provide reliable, high speed and affordable internet connectivity to Fiji then onward to the West Coast of the United States or Sydney, Australia via the Southern Cross network.
Tuilaepa noted that Samoa last year signed an agreement with the island of Wallis and Futuna whereby the French territory would benefit from the Tui Samoa and Southern Cross marine cables.
And that for the Tui Samoa cable project, efforts have begun for certification of facilities by the Federal Communications Commission and commercial negotiations have been initiated with Southern Cross cables for its next project linking Samoa to the US mainland in Los Angeles.
He lauds the partnership between Samoa, Fiji and Wallis and Futuna as regional cooperation in action.
Tuilaepa, a founder of the Polynesian Leaders Group of which American Samoa is a member, states in the letter, that he understands that American Samoa’s Director of Commerce Kensal Lafaele has been engaged in “constructive discussions” with the Samoa Company implementing the cable projects, Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC), regarding a possible partnership between the two Samoas.
He said he was excited about this joint vision because it is consistent with the principles of partnership that the two governments envisaged when the “2 Samoa Talks” were initiated.