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The Government of American Samoa has endorsed the funding for a submarine cable network that will give it, and Samoa, a submarine fibre connection to the rest of the world, at a bargain basement price.

The new link will provide around 280,000 people on the two Samoas (65,000 in American Samoa and 215,000 in Samoa) with a total Internet access capacity of 1Gbps - a huge improvement on the 20Mbps via satellite presently available; and the cost per MB per month will fall from around $US4000 to $US1500.

The planned cable system will connect Samoa to American Samoa and then to Hawaii where it will connect to global submarine networks. It will be created by retrieving the now defunct PacRim East cable that connects New Zealand to Hawaii, reconnecting it into American Samoa and relaying a section of it between the two Samoas. PacRim East has been made redundant by the much greater capacity available on Southern Cross.

The cables are of huge significance to the two Samoas. The governor of American Samoa, Togiola Tulafono, said in May that it was "the most significant economic development project for American Samoa in the last several decades."

He said the additional capacity would allow development of industries, tele-medicine and distant learning, previously limited by the cost and availability of satellite capacity. According to Tulafono, "With this new initiative, we will move from a labour intensive manufacturing industry into a technology-driven industry."

However the Democrat governor - who will be up for re-election at the same time as the US presidential election in November - has been facing opposition from Republican members of the Fono, the legislative assembly, and needed to get the final $US3m of American Samoa's $US9 million contribution to the project approved in the FY2009 budget ahead of the start of the financial year, October 1.

House Budget and Appropriations Committee chair. Republican Laolagi Vaeao. had accused the administration of failing to submit information requested by the house on a number of issues, including the fibre optic cable project. However at the eleventh hour problems were resolved and the $US3.0m allocation made it into the budget.
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Stuart Corner

 

Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.

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