Party claims churches' support over new Wi-Fi project

Leaders of major denominations have endorsed a proposal to establish a free Wi-Fi network for church schools proposed by Netvo Samoa and Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.), the opposition party claims.

NetVo is now working on relocating satellites that had previously been installed in public schools in Savai'i as part of an initiative that failed to win Government approval because it allegedly breached procedure. 

The company is now moving the satellites that had been intended for installation in public schools to church schools and ministers’ houses. 

The Chairman of F.A.S.T., La'auli Leuatea Schmidt, told the Samoa Observer that the plans for the new initiative had been well received. 

"During our meeting with leaders of the different denominations earlier this month, we made a proposal offering that help and assistance whether it was needed," La'auli said. 

"We [had earlier] rolled out the project for Government schools but [the Government has] banned the implementation and the continuation of the project. 

"So we made a proposal to all the denominations we met, and they have accepted it."

The previous plan to connect public schools in Savai’i to the wireless network was stopped by the Regulator last month, which refused to grant the project a spectrum licence.

The free network plans were also declared “illegal” by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupa'i.

According to La'auli, the idea for a renewed project originated from consultations with different denominations held earlier this month as part of the party’s preparations for next April's election.   

"Every denomination that we met has accepted our offer and we are now working on removing the satellites that were already installed in Government schools in Savai'i and [installing] them in the churches and church minister's houses,” the F.A.S.T. leader said.

"The service will also be offered to assist with Sunday Schools all across the country. The project is free for all the schools and Sunday schools. 

"[If] other organisations in the community want to use it, then they'll have to pay. 

"The websites will be filtered and there will be allocated times for the service to be opened to the students and those who will use it. 

"We are now relocating the satellites from the Government schools to all the church schools."

According to F.A.S.T. the denominations that have accepted its joint proposal with NetVo include: the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa; the Seventh Day Adventist church; the Assembly of God; the Methodist church; the Catholic church, and the Samoa Independent Seventh Day Adventist church.

La'auli said they did not want to stop pursuing the plans despite previously encountering obstacles.

"We still want to move on with the project and the aim that we set in the beginning and why this project was started,” he said.

"The objective was to offer a service and help our students with the accessibility of learning materials for their studies."

It has not yet been made clear how the proposed new WiFi project would overcome the legal issues that undermined the previous attempt to roll out the public school based network.

The first project was subject to an investigation from the Regulator questioning the legality of the project for allegedly obtaining a license before the rollout began.

La’auli, at the time of its cancellation, conceded there had been some “issues” with the rollout but he condemned its cancellation for depriving schoolchildren of learning opportunities for what he said were political reasons. 

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