Feds have no objections to transferring ASH Cable license to Fiji-based ATH
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With the concurrence of the US Justice Department (USDOJ), the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) has “no objections” in granting an application for transfer of control and license of the American Samoa Hawaii Cable LLC (ASH Cable) to Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATH), according to US Federal Communication Commission public records posted May 15 online.
The decision by the two federal departments comes after Fiji-based ATH submitted a nine-page Letter of Assurances (LOA), dated May 8th, to USDHS that outlines commitments made by ATH to USDHS “in order to address national security, law enforcement, and public safety concerns raised” by the federal government regarding an application filed by Spain-based Amper S.A. — the parent company of Bluesky Communications — and ATH with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The application requested the FCC authority to transfer control of the submarine cable landing license for ASH Cable from Amper to ATH, which announced in August 2016 its acquisition of Bluesky’s assets in American Samoa that include ASH Cable. The American Samoa Government owns 33% of ASH Cable.
The LOA, signed by ATH’s chief executive officer, Ivan Fong, outlines 15 specific commitments ATH will undertake, upon the FCC granting the authority to transfer the ASH Cable license. Among the commitments is a “measure to prevent improper use and unauthorized access” in which ATH agrees to take all reasonable measures to prevent unauthorized access to ASH Cable and to prevent any unlawful use or disclosure of information carried on the same.
Such measures shall include the implementation of a cyber security plan that is consistent with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, to include items such as configuration management, security audits, and system interconnection documentation, as well as contractual safeguards and screening procedures for personnel with logical access to the Domestic Communications Infrastructure (DCI).
Other commitments include filing an annual report as well as “reporting incidents and breaches” - for example, unauthorized third-party access to, or disruption or corruption of, ASH Cable.
With the LOA from ATH, the USDHS, with USDOJ concurrence, filed a petition May 9th, advising the FCC that the two agencies “have no objection” to the FCC approving the request for the transfer of the ASH Cable license. The LOA was also provided to FCC, which had yet to make an official decision as of yesterday morning.
The petition states that after discussions with representatives of ATH, Amper S.A., and several entities owned or controlled by Amper (such as ASH Cable, and Bluesky), regarding this proceeding, the two federal agencies have concluded that the commitments set forth in the 2018 LOA will help ensure that those federal agencies with responsibility for enforcing the law, protecting national security, and preserving public safety can proceed appropriately to satisfy those responsibilities.
The petition also suggested the termination of the 2009 Agreement among the two federal agencies and ASH Cable, Bluesky and others; and it included a “mutually-agreed Termination Agreement”.
The transfer of license as well as the Termination Agreement includes the fiber cable spur connecting American Samoa to Samoa - the Samoa American Samoa Cable LLC (SASC).
All documents pertaining to ATH and Amper petitions can be viewed at <www.fcc.gov>