Cable Company, Digital TV and Samoa’s push for digital transformation

By The Editorial Board 13 May 2022, 6:50PM

Digital transformation and innovation are important concepts to think about.  

They hold the key to the future. Indeed the ability to integrate digital technology into all areas of life is so critical for Samoa if this country is to stay abreast with the rest of the rapidly changing world. 

Anything less and Samoa will be left behind. Such is the speed with which technological advancements are changing the world that when we blink we’ll miss it.  

From where we stand, we have seen how quickly things have changed.  Life in Samoa has certainly been transformed by digital technology in so many ways, from our homes, places of work to farming, accelerated by restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic and mankind’s yearning for normality. 

It proves that innovation and digitalisation does have a place, even for the remotest and farthest flung corners of the universe.  Leaders of today, especially Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her Government, have to make sure they are awake and are on top of the developments and do their utmost best to ensure Samoa gets the most out of these technological advances.  

They must ensure Samoa capitalises from the incredible opportunities in these extraordinarily challenging times. It means they have got to make the right decisions when it comes to infrastructure and policies that facilitate these developments. 

During the past few days, a couple of stories concerning the I.C.T sector in Samoa surfaced which caught the attention. When we talk about I.C.T infrastructure, the stories highlight critical developments that could have an enormous impact on digital transformation and innovation. 

The first story, titled “Govt. makes a move on Cable Company” was published last weekend. The story told us that the Government has stepped in to take full ownership of the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (S.S.C.C.) with plans to buy the shares held by two Internet Service Providers (I.S.P.) 

The plans were confirmed by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (M.C.I.T.), Toelupe Pou Onesemo, who said Cabinet has given a directive to begin the process. 

Interestingly, during the interview with the Samoa Observer, Minister Toelupe focused on shares.  “The fiber was sold to Bluesky for not much, around $20 million,” said Toelupe. “We had discussed buying it back. The price has gone up to $100 million but it was sold to them for $20 million. Like I said the asset is valuable yet it was sold [by the previous government].” 

Those who have been around long enough will know that governments are not very good at running businesses. In fact, it was with that thinking the previous government sold the fiber. 

Times have changed and the new administration have their own plans. While we don’t know what the new Government’s plans are yet, we find it quite interesting that they are moving to take control of the cable at such a quick pace.

We don’t know enough yet about the merits of the decision and whether it is justifiable. Members of the public certainly deserve a more detailed explanation from the Government and we look forward to it, for the sake of transparency and accountability. 

Whatever or however they arrived at the decision, the Government has to consider the greater good of the people of Samoa. They have to think about what is best for this country and how the decision they are making will impact on the people of Samoa, especially the push for digitisation and digital transformation. 

We also hope the Government is paying attention to the latest developments with the Samoa Digital Communications Company Limited. This week, we have been told that the company has invited tenders and bids from qualified companies to purchase the first Samoa Digital Terrestrial Television Platform in its entirety. 

Apart from what is in the advertisement, there is not a lot of information available about the decision to sell the platform. We look forward to finding out more details about the reasons.

It goes without saying that like most technology, the digital TV platform has transformed the television experience in this country. Unlike past years, many families in rural villages have finally been able to enjoy access to multiple TV channels following the digital switch. 

The promise of the project lifting the broadcasting industry by promoting coverage and providing quality transmission in terms of signal strength has certainly been delivered and this country is better for it. 

Which is why this development cannot be ignored, especially by the Government. As representatives of the people, they need to be interested and invested in matters that affect the public. The digital TV platform is something that affects everyone. The Government must pay close attention to ensure that whatever happens, the greater good of the people of Samoa is at the forefront of all decisions made. 

The Cable Company and the Samoa Digital Terrestrial Television Platform are critical pieces of infrastructure in Samoa’s push for digital transformation and innovation. This is why the public must be informed about the developments, as well as the Government putting its best foot forward to ensure members of the public benefit the most, regardless of what transpires. 

Have a restful weekend Samoa, God bless!

By The Editorial Board 13 May 2022, 6:50PM
Samoa Observer

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