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Longest serving ASG Director staying on for 3 more months

Long time executive director of the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority is staying on for three more months, while the ASTCA board begins the process of looking for a new boss, according to an ASTCA board media statement. The new ASTCA board of directors is chaired by Roy J.D. Hall Jr., while the vice chair post is held by Moefa’auo “Bill” Emmsley. Other board members are Steven Shalhout, Dr. Trudie Iuli Sala, Bill Young and Alofagia Nomura. (Samoa News understands two more members were recently appointed to the ASTCA board as well, but there has been no official announcement to date.)The board’s statement released Sunday night by Hall states that ASTCA’s current executive director Aleki Sene Sr. agreed last Friday to extend his contract for another three months and to assist with the “transition” of a new executive director, while the board has started the search for a new boss. Sene is the longest serving director in ASG history, spanning a career of more than forty years. He was first appointed in 1972 by then Gov. John P. Haydon as the director of the Office of Communications — which in January 1998 became ASTCA, under an executive order issued by the late Gov. Tauese P.S. Sunia to comply with the Federal Communication Commission regulations mandated in the 1996 Telecommunication Act. Hall, on behalf of the board “extends Sene and his family sincere gratitude for his dedicated service to the people of American Samoa,” said the board statement. According to the media statement, the board’s vision is to build on the work of Sene by improving customer service, filling key existing vacancies in ASTCA, in particular, their Business Division, and to make ASTCA more competitive in the telecommunication services industry in American Samoa. Additionally, the Board plans to update and improve, with new technology, the Internet service and Cellular phone service and this may result in lower prices. The Board will also consider other cost saving measures in the next 100 days. Hall emphasized that ASTCA is the only semi-autonomous agency that has a competitor in the telecommunications business in American Samoa. He was referring to locally based Bluesky Communications which provides, among other services, internet and cellular phones.Asked what specific mandates the governor has given to the new board to address, the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said Lolo gave the main mandate, “make sure students in Manu’a have equal access to internet service” under the ASTCA’s Broadband Linking the American Samoa Territory (BLAST) project, funded with more than $90 million in federal stimulus money. For this project — at the end of the 4th quarter of FY 2012 — ASTCA had completed plans for inside plant design and equipment and finalized contracts for the network equipment build-out part, the performance report says. According to the report, the project work is still ongoing and in various stages. Samoa News reported in January this year on the ongoing work to expand ASTCA’s internet broadband width and capability through a contract it signed with 03b Networks, which will provide up to 1.2Gbps of future broadband connectivity for Internet and other services for American Samoa starting in 2013. This move has the potential to double the current capacity for American Samoa. Currently, ASH cable, the provider of internet broadband through its fiber optic cable has a capacity of 1.0Gbps.ASTCA, whose approved budget for fiscal year 2013 and 2012 stands at $15 million, operates without a governmental subsidy, and funds its operations and upgrades from the revenue it generates from sales and services.