Mobile operator, internet provider conference underway

Samoa is playing host to over 70 information technology professionals this week as they gather for the 24th meeting of the Pacific Network Operators Group (PacN.O.G).

PacN.O.G is a regional group for networking and capacity building among the industry. Member countries enjoy training by industry experts to keep them abreast of the ever changing worlds of technology, the internet and mobile communications.

This week is the third time the conference is in Samoa, with Bluesky playing host. 

Chief Executive Officer for BlueSky Pacific Group Toleafoa Douglas Creevey said the region needs to keep up with not only the benefits of new technologies, but also the risks.

“Everyone needs to be aware because the technology is changing all the time, hence we have this almost twice a year,” Toleafoa said.

“It’s to update, upskill and upgrade not only the knowledge of our participants but also to share the roadmap of the internet and all of its possibilities and development benefits are heading.”

Bluesky, Digicel, Netvo, Computer Systems Limited, and the Samoa Submarine Cable have all sent participants to the conference, as well as university technical managers, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

New technologies are developing all the time, and greater connectivity through the Samoa Submarine Cable is enabling more access to data, products and information. 

“The more we bring submarine cables into our waters it means we have the world at our shore, literally, so the more we need to learn to deliver, filter and keep our internet boundaries secure,” said Toleafoa.

“With all the knowledge possibilities and infrastructural improvements that arrive also come the risks of cyber security access and hacks.”

And while not every new technology will be relevant, or affordable, the Pacific needs to stay informed to ward against any dangers that come with it.

Toleafoa said data centres in Samoa or even in American Samoa or Fiji which are connected to Samoa through the submarine cable bring with them new technologies that might affect the local IT ecosystem.

“There are always going to be companies coming into our islands like Samoa, looking to leverage the submarine cable and all the opportunities it can bring. But our local experts need to be able to understand, police and keep networks secure when some of these overseas technologies are introduced into our country,” he said.

Some technologies are still years away, like 5G. But now is the time to invest in “knowledge capital” so that when the time is right, Samoa is prepared to handle the change.

“5G would be at least 24 months away, and that is just on the mobile communications side,” Toleafoa explained.

“Within that, there are standards that need to be expanded and improved, there are frequency planning issues that regulators have to manage and learn and master, there are policy guidelines that local ministry would need to gauge and learn from the International Telecommunication Union.

“All those things have to go hand in hand, it’s not just about bringing in the 5G and turning it on.”

Digital Television is one example of how technology and legislation work alongside each other for progress.

With the advent of digital television, analogue television channels will switch to digital and free up space on the frequency bands for new communication channels like 5G.

“If you are aware of what is coming and you know what is happening overseas, we can be prepared to implement those technologies if and when we are ready,” added Toleafoa.

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