Am Samoa lags behind other U.S. Island Areas in household access to broadband
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa had the lowest rate of broadband subscriptions out of all four Insular Areas, according to the U.S Census Bureau’s demographic profiles for the 2020 Island Areas Censuses (IACs) that was released last week Thursday.
The Census Bureau said that the IACs collected information about computer and internet use, including types of computer devices, internet subscription status, and type of internet service.
The IACs highlight computer ownership and internet use in the Island Areas every 10 years for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The IACs data and report shows that in the four Island Areas at least 90% of local households report owning a computer, and 69% or more had access to a broadband internet subscription.
For comparison, 95% of U.S. households owned a computer and 90% had a broadband internet subscription, according to national estimates from the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS), which collects demographic, economic, and housing data for 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico annually.
Results of the 2020 IACs for computer ownership and internet use shows that CNMI had the highest rate of computer ownership, with approximately 97% of households reporting ownership of at least one type of computer and 84% reporting having a broadband internet subscription.
On the other hand, “American Samoa had the lowest rate of broadband subscriptions out of all the Island Areas, with 69% of households there indicating they subscribed to one or more broadband services,” according to the report. “Ninety-two percent of households in American Samoa owned a computer.”
In Guam, 95% of households owned a computer and 85% had a broadband internet subscription, while in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 91% of households owned a computer and 79% had a broadband subscription.
Three public schools teachers, with whom Samoa News shared this information early this week, said that ASG as well as local internet providers — especially the government owned American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority — should do more to help families of school-age children have access to the internet and computers.
They suggested that ASTCA provide relief on internet rates to these families, as computer usage is very “important” in today’s learning. And this was proven during the remote learning period amid COVID-19 restrictions in the territory.
They pointed out that there were students, who had no access to the internet at home, during the lock-down period, and this made it difficult for teachers to reach them for “virtual learning”.
According to the IACs report, growth in computer ownership and internet subscriptions, such as that seen in CNMI, is not surprising. Technological advances and the expansion of broadband infrastructure have made computing technology both more affordable and more common.
“Over the past decade, motivating factors for using the internet have increased, such as for entertainment as well as necessary services like health care and education,” it says.
Additionally, the past decade has seen several investments in broadband infrastructure in Island Areas, each of which may have affected growth in subscription rates over this period.
The data on internet and computer ownership was released with other demographic details on American Samoa last week Thursday. (See yesterday’s Samoa News edition for more details.)