Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) will receive over $81 million in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was passed by Congress on February 17, 2009. The funding will be used to ‘replace the old, deteriorating legacy copper infrastructure with a more robust and weather-durable fiber optic network that will link the main islands of American Samoa, making it possible to provide broadband services to every household, business, and critical institution in the region.’ ASTCA will also receive an additional $10 million loan and will use about $4.4 million in private funds for the project.
“I want to commend the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority for putting forward a competitive grant application to receive funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As I announced in a release dated February 13, 2009, and as follow-up to my letter of January 27 and 28, 2009 to the Governor and Fono updating them about the stimulus bill and our efforts to make sure that the Territories would also receive assistance to stabilize their economies, I am pleased that the House and Senate agreed to provide significant funding to the Territories under many programs of the bill which are being provided by the various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture from which our fiber optics will now be funded,” Faleomavaega said.
“As Territorial Delegates we were also hopeful to have a separate stream of funding for the Office of Insular Affairs because we felt that States often have an unfair advantage over Territories when it comes to competitive grants. So our intent was to move $197 million from Title VI of the Broadband Technology Opportunities program to the OIA so that we could more fairly compete. But all I can say is I am very proud of ASTCA which is only one of 22 applicants to receive funding for their grant application which is being awarded under Title 1 (Rural Utilities Service) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
“This award will provide American Samoa with affordable and reliable telecommunications services for more than 45 years, and will help us connect to existing satellite links, and will also link up Aunu’u island and the Manu’a island group. The project will also connect to the new optical fiber transpacific American Samoa-Hawaii (ASH) cable, too, and could lead to long-term economic development.”
“Again, I want to commend ASTCA for putting forward an excellent proposal and I also want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for agreeing to include the Territories in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which has made this $80 million fiber optics and broadband services award possible. I also want to thank Secretary Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for recognizing the needs of rural communities and for working with us to improve educational and economic opportunities in the Territories,” Faleomavaega concluded.