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BLAST project set to go into high gear by January

Build out expected to take 15 months
jeff@samoanews.com

The American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) says completion of the BLAST (Broadband Linking the American Samoa Territory) project will provide American Samoa with access to a world-class network that will bring economic advancement to the territory. Completion of the build out is estimated at 15 months.
 
The groundwork that has been underway for a while was recognized on Friday when ASTCA hosted a blessing ceremony at the Michels Corporation lot in Tafuna.
 
The ceremony was to thank individuals, businesses and government agencies that have played a vital part in initiating and carrying out this project.
 
Michels Corporation from Wisconsin has been contracted from off island to head the build out of the fiber optic system to local homes and businesses through their engineering team that will be based on island while the construction is ongoing.
 
According to Project Manager Randy Thompson of the Michels Corporation, the project will start the first week of January 2014 and will take approximately one year and three months. He stated that they intend to hire local help such as laborers, truck drivers and operators.
 
Talking about the impact on traffic and the roads, Thompson said, “We plan on using a directional drilling process to minimize the actual road construction which is the open trenching operation that you see a lot of contractors doing now on the island. The least amount of impact as possible, that is what this directional drilling is all about,” he said. He said that the goal is to eliminate open trenching as much as possible.
 
During his closing remarks, ASTCA CEO Moefa’auo Bill Emmsley talked about the common good and the importance of the project. He said the build out to homes and businesses represents 65% of the project and is likely to be the most controversial.
 
“… We have to deal with construction, construction that deals with many sorts of unknown challenges, including the rights of people and their lands and that is one of the major issues we contend with,” said the CEO. He explained that every time they set up a drill somewhere or drill a hole, someone always calls his office demanding that they stop. “But ladies and gentleman, so far we have the importance and value of this project for the common good as the minister (Afioga Patele Kolio Etuale of Leone Holy Cross Parish) who spoke this morning said, this marks the beginning of the major portion of the project and we ask the blessings of God for all of those that will be involved,” he said.
 
Speaking on behalf of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Attorney General Afoa L. Su’esu’e Lutu stated that this is a very important project for the people and the territory of American Samoa.
 
“We would not be good stewards if we did not see this project through to its completion. The project provides the ability to each resident of American Samoa to connect to the outside for educational, family and economic development purposes,” he said.
 
Afoa noted for our government, the project improves our capabilities to promote and accomplish our educational and economic development goals.
 
In special remarks, Chairman of the ASTCA Board of Directors Roy J.D. Hall Jr. addressed Michels Corporation saying ASTCA looks forward to “sharing your vision to perform high quality work and to exceed expectation … to accomplish your mission to improve our telecommunications infrastructure — to open that window to the future and to the world for American Samoa.”
 
According to a recent ASTCA Press Release, the BLAST project will replace the islands’ copper network with an advanced Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) infrastructure.
 
“Residents as well as businesses in American Samoa will have access to this world class network, which will deliver significantly high-speed data, next generation voice services and new Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). The BLAST project will bring many opportunities of advancement to the territory, especially for the economy.”
 
Michels Corporation is an international utility, engineering, design, and construction contractor based in Brownsville, Wisconsin.



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