Lemanu drops telecommunications restrictions for govt agencies
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Through a Mar. 29th memorandum, Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga is allowing all government entities to procure telecommunication services from any organization so long as laws are followed.
Lemanu’s memo titled ‘Procurement of Telecommunication Services’ rescinds the Policy Pronouncement made by former Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga in an Aug. 15, 2017 memo.
“Departments, offices, agencies, and authorities may procure telecommunications services from any organization so long as they comply with applicable procurement laws and rules,” Lemanu said in the brief memo addressed to his cabinet members.
As reported by Samoa News on Aug. 21, 2017, Lolo directed that all purchases by American Samoa Government entities regarding telecommunication needs should only be with the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority, not its “competitor”.
Lolo’s directive was outlined in an Aug. 15, 2017 memo, titled “Support of Government Owned Assets” to all chief executive officers and directors of ASG authorities, departments and offices.
He says there are units of government obtaining telecom service from ASTCA’s “competitor”.
“In light of this revelation, this Policy Pronouncement is articulated requiring all instrumentalities of the American Samoa Government to procure telecommunication services from the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority,” Lolo said.
“We can find all types of excuses to justify our current practice of purchasing telecommunication services from another vendor,” the then-governor pointed out. “We cannot continue to undermine the viability of this asset of the American Samoa Government.”
Lolo’s memo quickly attracted public criticism and criticism from private sector businesses.
Lolo didn’t identify the “competitor” or “another vendor” by name, however, it’s common knowledge that the Lolo was referring to Bluesky Communications.
The two major telecommunication services in which ASTCA and Bluesky are competitors are the internet and cellular phones. At the time the memo was issued some departments were using both of these services offered by Bluesky, and many senior ASG officials had Bluesky cell phones for their private use.
The following year, in an Apr. 24, 2018 memo, titled ‘Communication Security’, sent to cabinet members, Lolo set a new government policy where federally funded programs were mandated to utilize ASTCA for internet and other required communication services.
Lolo said at the time that the American Samoa Hawai’i Cable (ASH) — “is deemed the most secure cable system that is currently serving our needs and ASTCA is a government owned facility, which guarantees the security of informational exchange” with federal government agencies.
He expected that by May 1, 2019 “all of your telecommunication conversions will have been completed.”
No information was available at press time if Lolo’s Apr. 24, 2018 directive is still effective under the Lemanu/Talauega Administration. The former governor’s directive came weeks after the new Hawaiki cable landed in the territory, with the American Samoa link of Hawaiki owned by ASTCA.
ASH-Cable, which is 33% owned by ASG, was launched in July 2009. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Dec. 31, 2020 end of the year report, states that AST Telecom, LLC d.b.a Bluesky, the American Samoa Hawaii Cable, LLC, and Samoa American Samoa Cable, LLC — the Licensees — notified the FCC by letter on Oct. 23, 2020 that the American Samoa-Hawaii segment of the American Samoa Hawaii Cable System “was retired and taken out of commercial service effective July 16, 2020.”
The FCC was also informed that the segment of the system connecting Samoa and American Samoa remains in service and will now be known as the “Samoa American Samoa Cable System”. (See Samoa News edition Jan. 07, 2021 for details.)