Internet project decision "political"

The leader of Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party, Laauli Leuatea Schmidt, is disappointed by the Government's decision, through the Office of the Regulator, to stop a project which allowed students in remote areas to access free wifi.

The decision to stop the project was delivered by Acting Regulator, Cecily Faasau Iakopo, after an investigation due to non-compliance. 

But La’auli said he had only wished the project was allowed to continue for the benefit of the students, adding that the matter has become political at the expense of students.

The project that connected some schools in Savai’i to free wifi was made possible through Netvo Samoa in partnership with F.A.S.T. 

Less than a few months into the installation of satellite to connect schools to free wifi the project hit a snag. 

It was subject to an investigation from the Regulator questioning the legality of the project without obtaining a license. 

Although La’auli accepts that there were a few issues that Netvo had to address in relation to the project but it shouldn’t be blocked permanently when its benefit is immense.

“First and foremost it’s sad because the project was done with good intentions but politics is now involved,” he said.

“There were a few issues but now it seems like they want us to start all over again. By now we would’ve had all the schools in Savaii connected and do the same for Upolu.”

La’auli added that the project was not intended to benefit them but for children especially those in rural villages that weren’t able to connect to the internet for studies in the past.

He said about 100 schools have had their satellite installed in the island of Savai’i with plans to do the same in Upolu. 

Another option the M.P. said will be considered is redirecting the project to have it implemented by the village council. 

He said there have been alot of barriers they had to overcome by going through the schools because of the involvement from government. 

However, he believes that perhaps if its given to the village council to enforce it for the benefit of their children then there would be alot less disruption from outside. 

Last week, the Office of the Regulator halted the project refusing to grant a license to continue free wifi.   

The decision followed an Order from the Regulator to cease the roll out of the project.

In a letter to Bluwave Wireless Limited also known as Netvo Samoa, dated 5 November 2020 the Acting Regualator advised the company about the outcome of the investigation.

Mrs. Iakopo noted that Netvo was not in compliance and that “you needed to apply for spectrum in order for your project to operate”.

“Despite public scrutiny and media releases which brought the O.O.T.R’s name into disrepute, O.O.T.R. attempted to salvage your projects by allowing you to submit the relevant information necessary to assist with the regulatory process and decision,” the letter reads.

“Despite requests to submit all relevant information for regulatory process and to support your project you had continuously resisted to submit relevant information required.”

Upon projection of the documents submitted by Netvo in support of the project, the Regulator made several observations. She noted that there was no business licence submitted, there was no development consent application for the project and unaudited financial information was lodged.

“Overall your company did not attain the pass mark for Licence,” the letter reads.

“In light of the above, the Order of the Regulator No.2020/t04 stands (Ceasing the roll out of your project) and grant of licence is refused.

Attempts to obtain comments from Netvo Chief Operation Officer, Togisala Leota have been unsucessful. 

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