Amata cosponsors national telecommunications bill, and speaks to territorial broadband strategy group
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On Thursday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata spoke remotely to the Territory’s group examining broadband strategy, and announced she is cosponsoring legislation that would support cyber security, and fund a $750 million national grant program toward the eventual deployment and use of widespread 5G Networks.
The bill is the USA Telecommunications Act of 2020. It would create the Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Grant Program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Congresswoman Amata thanked the group for this focus on better broadband, and highlighted the importance of communications to remote areas and telehealth, along with the role of federal funds.
TEXT OF MOST OF CONGRESSWOMAN AMATA’S REMARKS:
“As I’m speaking to you from Coconut Point, I am reminded how far we have come in this age of technology. Making the most of this wonderful new technology is a top priority in Congress. The Federal Government is enthusiastically promoting and supporting development of new broadband technologies, and new ways to use these technologies, not only for economic development but education and healthcare applications. Telecommunications connect our remote location to the outside world. Both our local VA and LBJ rely on that connection, allowing telehealth and consultation with other healthcare professionals on the mainland — an important topic I know you’ll be discussing much more.
“Because of these changes, American Samoa is no longer quite so isolated and distant. We are right there on screen! I am encouraged by this Territorial Broadband Strategy initiative being launched today. I appreciate this opportunity to be with you for this initiative, and I will do all I can to support your efforts.
“As you develop your planning for telecommunications, security will always be a concern. On Monday of this week, I cosponsored a bill to help provide new levels of security and to help lower costs. That new legislation is The USA Telecommunications Act of 2020. It would also create the Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Grant Program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. This plan would distribute up to $750 million nationally in grants to support the deployment and use of 5G Networks in America. I know American Samoa is mostly an LTE market but 5G is in the future and we should always be preparing.
“Another important federal program is the Connect America Fund, designed to ensure that consumers in high-cost areas have access to modern communications networks, capable of providing voice and broadband service at rates that can compare to those in urban areas. The program allows eligible carriers who serve these areas to recover some of their costs from the federal Universal Service Fund.
“Universal service is the principle that ALL Americans should have access to communications services. Universal service is also the name of a fund, and the category of FCC programs and policies to implement this principle. These policies have helped make telephone service available, even in rural or remote areas such as American Samoa. Today, the FCC recognizes high-speed Internet as the 21st Century’s essential communications technology, working to make broadband as available as voice, while continuing to support voice service.
“Once again, I want to commend you for your initiative to develop a true Territorial Broadband Strategy. I encourage you to be familiar with the many federal programs to help fund your strategies, and to apply for that funding. I stand by to assist in any way possible.
“I recently saw a 2016 report showing that there were 17,000 internet users in American Samoa. I’m sure that number has grown dramatically since then, especially since the connection of the Hawaiki cable to our island-wide broadband.
“As always my office doors are open to you, but this audience might prefer my website amata.house.gov. While you’re there feel free to sign up for our newsletter so that you can stay in touch.
“May God bless your efforts, as we know technology can improve lives, and allow family far away to seem much closer now and then! Thank you and soifua.”