American Samoa to get faster internet access after FCC announcement

by May 19, 2021American Samoa, Puerto Rico0 comments

The Federal Connections Commission (FCC) announced on May 12 that American Samoa and other territories, including Guam and Puerto Rico, will gain access to mid-band spectrum, in the 3.5 GHz band (3550-3700 MHz). This will allow for 5G and other advanced wireless services to be available to a wide array of operators. For the first time, this mid-band spectrum connection will be available to enable commercial deployments in the 3550-3650 MHz band segment in these territories. Prior to this, American Samoa’s isolation made internet access slower and spottier. This increased speed and reliability is set to benefit residents of the territory. 

Acting Chairwoman of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, stated her belief that this connectivity was necessary for a fair shot at success in the 21st century. She also said that “these actions continue our efforts to bring 5G to everyone, everywhere in the country—and not create communities of 5G haves and have-nots.” She went on to thank the departments and agencies that partnered with the FCC to accomplish this goal, namely, the Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. 

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology have taken three actions that are related to 3.5 GHz Environmental Sensing Capabilities and Spectrum Access Systems approval. The first is not applicable to American Samoa. The second was to approve Federated Wireless Inc. to expand its Spectrum Access Systems so that they are able to operate in the 3550-3650 GHz band in a manner that is consistent with the protection criteria described by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in a letter filed on April 26, 2021. Doing so will allow for the first Citizens Broadband Radio Service in that portion of the band in American Samoa. The third action was to conditionally approve Fairspectrum LLC, Nokia, and RED Technologies, all of whom have completed the first of two phases in the Spectrum Access Systems approval process that was established by the Commission. In addition to these steps, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau also approved 13 more applications for Priority Access Licenses, which represents 125 licenses. 

This is one of a few actions that President Biden has taken to improve the lives of the residents of American Samoa. His administration recently proposed a budget that contains $684 million for the Office of Insular Affairs. This money would be used to support initiatives in American Samoa, as well as other territories, that are aimed at assisting the American people in the rebuilding following the Coronavirus pandemic. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, stated that “from bolstering climate resiliency and increasing renewable energy, to supporting Tribal nations and advancing environmental justice, President Biden’s budget will make much-needed investments in communities and projects that will advance our vision for a robust and equitable clean energy future.” She added that President Biden understands that island communities are those hardest hit by climate change, with this money prioritizing environmental justice that is so necessary to preserve American Samoa.