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Telecoms explain recent connectivity glitches to Senate Committee

Fa’asala Augafa (left) and  Aloiamoa Anesi, Jr

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Frustrated senators who are Bluesky customers wanted to know the reason for the glitch in communication they experienced the week before last, where calls made to ASTCA numbers failed to go through.

Instead, an “unknown” caller ID appeared on the screen.

The questions were posed to representatives of both service providers in a hearing of the Senate Communications Committee last Wednesday.

Bluesky Technical Director Aloiamoa Anesi, Jr. who testified with ASTCA Chief Technology Officer Fa’asala Augafa, stated that they had been working on the problem the night before and it was now rectified.

According to Anesi, they had been working together with their counterparts at ASTCA troubleshooting the new network and it was not a single side issue, but they managed to resolve the issue together.

He explained that it was two-pronged, the first being the coverage of the new network for the whole island and they were working on optimizing the network since it was brand new.

Anesi elaborated that some of those are places where you’re trying to make a call and the signal isn’t quite as good and secondly, is a provisioning issue on some of the phones and the SIM cards with the new network that don’t quite work right together.

He revealed that they have been able to fix quite a lot of those for their customers and that they have kept a list of all those who called in because they take any issue causing problems for their customers very seriously.

Currently, he stated that they have fixed about 75% of those cases.

However, Senator Magalei Logovi’i pointed out that he is still experiencing the problem with his Bluesky cellphone.

He said that he received a call just that morning with “unknown number” appearing on the screen and he didn’t want to answer a call from an unknown number.

He asked what timeframe he can expect for the problem to be rectified.

Anesi replied that the problem might be caused by another related malfunction with his cellphone and he can look into it as a specific case, because the general case and the testing from the maintenance they did the night before, should have solved the problem across the board.

Senators also questioned the awarding of $3.3 million of ARPA funds to Bluesky for the upgrade of their services to the 5G network, since it is owned by a foreign company.

Senator Poumele Pete Poumele raised the issue saying it was his understanding that ARPA funds, which are federal funds, cannot be awarded to foreign companies, only companies and institutions that are under the auspices of the U.S. or American Samoa governments.

The Bluesky Technical Director clarified that their parent company, Amalgamated Telecom Holdings based in Fiji is foreign owned, but the Bluesky company was established in American Samoa.

Anesi said that the Department of Commerce awarded Bluesky $3.3 million in ARPA funding to upgrade their services to their 5G network, after they had submitted a proposal for financial assistance for this purpose — so that can provide broadband to underserved and unserved areas of the Territory.