Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FSM Telecommunications Connectivity Project Moving Forward

FSM TC&I (July 16, 2014): President Mori updated the FSM Congress on recent developments in the FSM Telecommunications Connectivity Project, including availability of financing and 2014 timelines.

 It was erroneously reported in the July 14, 2014 edition of the Kaselehlie Press that the FSM Congress overrode the President’s veto of C.A. 18-75, popularly known as the moratorium on implementation of the FSM Telecommunications Act of 2014.  The fact is, Congress did not override the veto.  FSM’s liberalized telecommunications law continues to be effective and ready for immediate implementation, and the President’s efforts to secure funding for that implementation have been successful.

 On July 9, the World Bank formally informed the President that it can confirm the availability of up to US $51 million in grant financing for FSM’s portion of the Palau-FSM Connectivity Project.  This grant would fund 100% of the FSM’s share of a proposed Palau-Yap-Guam fiber optic cable, as well as fund 100% of a fiber optic cable connecting the islands of Weno and Satowan in the State of Chuuk to the existing Pohnpei fiber optic cable.  In addition, the grant would subsidize next-generation O3B satellite connectivity for the State of Kosrae for five years. 

 The World Bank proposes to secure formal Board approval for the project by November 30, 2014.  In order to meet that deadline, both FSM and the Republic of Palau will have to meet key project milestones, including finalizing the project design, recruitment of a project manager for the Palau-Yap-Guam portion of the project, and completion of the environmental and social safeguards work.  President Mori informed Congress that FSM’s Telecommunications Task Force and the Micro-Pal Fiber Optic Joint Committee, which contains members from both the Palau and FSM governments, have been diligently working to meet these milestones.

 In addition to the funds for infrastructure improvements for Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap, additional grant money will be available for project management and for technical assistance.  The technical assistance money will assist the FSM in transitioning to a modern, liberalized telecommunications environment in line with the FSM’s Telecommunications Policy, and the legal framework provided for in the FSM Telecommunications Act of 2014.  The goal of the liberalized telecommunications environment is better service, including broadband internet services, and lower prices for consumers in the FSM.

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