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ASTCA promises more bandwidth, world class services coming

fili@samoanews.com

The American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority has declined to disclose at this time the cost of its contract with Calix Inc., the Petaluma, Calif., based telecommunication equipment supplier who announced last week that it has been selected by ASTCA to support and implement its Broadband Linking the American Samoa Territory (BLAST) project.

The Blast project has been touted by ASTCA as its delivery vehicle of advanced broadband services across the islands.

As reported previously by Samoa News, this project is funded with a $91 million grant and loan stimulus money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service through the Broadband Initiatives Program. ($81 million in grant and $10 million in loan money)

Asked about the total contract for Calix, the ASTCA general counsel Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde told Samoa News yesterday, “We can't disclose this information at this time.”

ASTCA executive director Aleki Sene Sr. said in a joint news release with Calix that this project will forever change the way of life for the residents, businesses, and visitors of American Samoa, bringing to ASTCA subscribers “world-class broadband services infrastructure and furthering economic development across the islands.”

“With Calix solutions already deployed in our Fagatogo and Fagaitua central offices, we feel confident their EXA Powered solutions, their strong industry partnerships, and their program management capabilities will allow us to successfully transform our network to deliver advanced and reliable broadband services to our customers,” said Sene.

The BLAST project will transform the islands’ legacy copper network into an advanced fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure, the joint news release said, where “over 11,500 residences, businesses, and anchor institutions will be served by this world-class network.”

CALIX CONTRACT

Asked if the contract with Calix was first put out for public bidding process, Tauiliili-Langkilde explained that because  telecommunications equipment used for the BLAST project is specialized, unique equipment, the Calix equipment contract was not put out to bid.

“Calix is uniquely capable of providing access equipment for ASTCA’s telecommunications network,” she explained. “Calix is an existing ASTCA service provider, supplying ASTCA with specialized telecommunications equipment since 2008.”

“In fact, Calix equipment was specified as the access equipment of choice in ASTCA's funding application to RUS,” she said.

BANDWIDTH

Samoa News also asked the ASTCA attorney how the BLAST project is going to make internet reception better, using the same amount of bandwidth?

Additionally, she was asked if ASTCA will have the money to lease more bandwidth from the fiber optic cable operator — American Samoa Hawai’i Cable (ASH-Cable) — and how much money will be involved in the lease of the fiber optic cable bandwidth for the BLAST project?

“ASTCA is doing everything we can to explore opportunities to bring more internet bandwidth to the people of American Samoa at prices we can afford,” was Tauiliili-Langkilde’s reply. “At the moment ASTCA has contracted with the ASH Cable for a 3rd DS3, adding the 3rd just this year.” She didn’t however reveal the cost of the third DS-3.

Samoa News notes that in ASTCA’s FY 2011 budget, the authority allocated $3.18 million for the second DS-3 from ASH-Cable. In the FY 2012 budget, there is no specific mention of the third DS-3, but under the budget category “Telephone & Communications”, there is an allocation of $3.51 million, a $320,000 increase over the FY 2011 allocation with the narrative "Large increase in funding level due to the addition of more bandwidth to support ASTCA’s broadband initiative."

IPTV SERVICES

An interesting issue cited by Calix in the joint news release, states in part that this BLAST project “will deliver ultra-high-speed data, next-generation voice services, and new internet protocol television (IPTV) services across the islands” and that Calix is coordinating a multi-vendor partnership to bring a complete IPTV solution, from hardware to content, to ASTCA.

Asked if ASTCA is planning on setting up a cable television service (which is a rumor in the territory) and if so, when will this happen, Tauiliili-Langkilde’s reply was that, “ASTCA is moving forward to build and deploy IPTV and other services for initial delivery over our existing copper wire infrastructure, the latter of which will be replaced by Fiber to the Home (FTTH) or Fiber to the Premises (FTTx) infrastructure via the BLAST Project.”

According to wikipedia.com, the IPTV is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats.



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