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Am Samoa first responders in line to benefit from national broadband system

Local Homeland Security (ASDHS) director Samana Semo Ve’ave’a [SN file photo]
20 MHz will be available for private-sector development

Local Homeland Security (ASDHS) director Samana Semo Ve’ave’a has recommended to the governor that American Samoa “opt-in” and participate in the deployment of the nation-wide public safety broadband proposed by the federal First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent entity within the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

In March of last year, the USDOC and FirstNet announced the selection of AT&T to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to America’s first responders.

In a news release at the time, the federal agency says that this record-breaking public-private partnership is a significant investment in the communications infrastructure that public safety desperately needs for day-to-day operations, disaster response and recovery, and securing of large events.

Additionally, it will make 20 MHz of prime broadband spectrum available for private-sector development. Furthermore the private-public partnership will built a $46.5 billion wireless broadband network.

All states, the District of Columbia and US territories were given the deadline of Dec. 28, 2017 to “opt-in” or “opt-out”. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced last Friday that all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have accepted FirstNet and AT&T’s proposals to design and build a broadband network for the public safety community.

However, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands have until Mar. 12, 2018 to make their decision.

In a Dec. 22 letter, Samana recommended to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga that American Samoa “opt-In and to participate in the deployment of the nationwide interoperable broadband network.”

Samana explained that a meeting was held Dec. 20, 2017 with members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council who are also FirstNet Stakeholders, to discuss and gather any feedback and input on this nationwide network.

He said ASDHS “is confident that we have gathered all pertinent concerns” which “have been aggressively addressed to FirstNet and AT&T.”

Although concerns have been addressed and documented through the State Portal to AT&T, “we have not yet received an adequate response to our issues,” he said, adding that based on the feedback gathered from other states, “it seems unlikely that we will receive any constructive response to our concerns within the 90-day clock.”

Despite the lack of response from AT&T, he points out that the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority — as both the AT&T local partner and an ASG stakeholder partner — “has been more receptive and accommodating to our concerns.”

ASDHS concerns were not cited in the letter but more detailed information has already been submitted to the governor for review and consideration.

In announcing the “opt-In” by all states and two territories last Friday, the US Commerce Secretary said, “We are now one step closer to delivering on a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, and I commend the governors and leaders of these states and territories for demonstrating their commitment to the safety of all Americans.”

NTIA Administrator David Redl added, “FirstNet will transform how first responders communicate as they respond to emergencies and protect the public in communities across the country, including rural America.”

This week Vermont announced that it has decided to “opt-out” of FirstNet, according to national media.

See additional information on this nationwide project at: and click on the “FirstNet” link.