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Acting Regulator clarifies Bluwave Wireless Project report

The Office of the Regulator has clarified that the Bluewave Wireless Project rolled out by the Bluewave Wireless Ltd, which is also known as NetVo Samoa, was “unauthorised”.

The clarification was outlined in a letter circulated Wednesday evening by the Acting Regulator, Fesola’i Cecily Fa’asau and addressed to the Government Press Secretary to clarify the issues published in the November 8, 2020 article by the Samoa Observer newspaper.

It was unclear which part of the published article was ambiguous to the Press Secretary, however, Fesola’i outlined the main issues, including the lack of documentation by the company prior to its implementation.

“Please be informed that after deliberation over what was relevant information, I was inclined to find that the Bluwave Wireless (“Bluwave”) Project roll out was unauthorized,” Fesolai’s letter reads.

“This is premised on the fact that the Office of the Regulator (“OOTR”) and those who were in the position of Acting Regulator were neither aware nor informed of the project; and neither was there any official record that established official approval or authorization.”

Fesola’i said the O.O.T.R. was only aware of the project after a discovery by a staff member during one of its coverage and service exercises in Savai’i around September 10, 2020. Consequently inquiries were conducted.

“By law an application for grant of Spectrum License for the new and anticipated spectrum to be used for the new sites should have been made,” the letter reads.

She also advised that a spectrum license is not the same as a telecommunication license.

And whilst Bluwave had authorisation to provide telecommunication services under its telecommunication license, it does not have authorisation for use of spectrum in order for the project to operate.

Fesola’i said Bluewave was directed through several correspondences and finally ordered by way of Order of the Regulator No.2020/T04 to cease the roll out and continuation of the project until regulatory measures are met and approved by the regulator, and produce all relevant information, documentation relative to the Project and Bluwave operations, inclusive of Business, Technical and Procurement Plan for the Office of the Regulator’s perusal.

Eventually, the O.O.T.R. decided after deliberation “over what was relevant information” that Bluwave fell short of the pass mark for approval of a spectrum license to facilitate operation of the project.

“The situation is unfortunate but the rules are clear; to ignore them would essentially mean that O.O.T.R. will undermine the very legal instruments that dictate its mandates and proper process,” Fesola’i wrote.

Additionally, Fesola’i noted that the O.O.T.R. shares the concern in relation to the impact the shutdown will have on the schools which had been connected by the Bluwave Wireless Project.

She said the only other plausible action is for Bluwave to follow proper regulatory measures in order to meet all relevant criteria for approval.

Otherwise, the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology must work together to see that the information and communication technology needs of the schools are met.

“Meanwhile there is also the opportunity of a universal access mechanism which can be driven by the Office of the Regulator to assist with unserved or underserved areas, inclusive of the affected schools,” Fesolai’s letter concluded.

The controversial project instigated a political spat between the Government and newly launched Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party.

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