The Hon. Minister of Communications & Information Technology, Afioga Afamasaga Lepuia’i Rico Tupai, and the Office of the Regulator (OOTR), the Itu o Tane College Staff & Students and the Matautu District officially opened the Pacific Satellite Connectivity Project yesterday, 13th June 2019, at 10am at Itu o Tane College, Avao, Savaii.
The ceremony was blessed by Rev. Pulea Tilomau of the Avao Methodist Church, and the Minister for the OOTR spoke on the benefits from these connectivity opportunities, especially for remote communities such as Matautu, Savaii. The students now have the best access to knowledge from around the world. They can now access more tutors for online tutorials, materials and assistance anytime from anywhere. The Itu o Tane College has two computer labs, one of which is dedicated as a learning Centre and the other for classes from Yr 9 to Yr 13 which now has internet access for the first time.
This is an opportunity for all villagers at Matautu and neighbouring villages to access information when mobile services are down and if there is no radio communication during and after disasters. The five (5) VSAT satellite dishes are now the new tools to equip them for preparedness and coordinating activities. The project is installed to five (5) sites from Upolu and Savaii, all of them schools such as Itu o Tane College.
The Pacific Satellite Connectivity Project is made possible with the assistance from International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for engineering capacity building and negotiation, the satellite equipment and the internet access was provided by Kacific Broadband Satellite Company (Kacific) and the OOTR will provide technical assistant. All 5 schools can use the link to access the internet for FREE for a period of 12 months. Before 12 months is over the Regulator will send a report to ITU and Kacific for their review.
Furthermore, OOTR will continue to work with ITU and Kacific to make sure sustainable mechanisms are built into every process so that it is easier for key stakeholders to maintain, with the intension to expand the VSAT operation as the next phase. The project was signed between ITU and the Samoan Government in 2014 as part of the Small Island Developing States meeting, but have only been realised just now. We sincerely hope that the teachers and the students will continue to utilise these opportunities while we continue working with ITU and Kacific for the sustainability of these useful and very important projects for Samoa.