Submarine cables boost international connectivity in Samoa

Submarine cables boost international connectivity in Samoa

Samoa was one of the first Pacific Island countries to establish a regulatory infrastructure and to liberalise its telecom market. In 2006, it became the first in the region to see the market entrance of Digicel, which has since launched services in other Pacific nations.

The advent of competition in the mobile market saw prices fall by around 50% and network coverage increase to more than 90% of the population.

LTE is developing on the back of its initial launch in 2016 by Digicel Samoa, followed by BlueSky Samoa (now Vodafone Samoa) in 2017. Digicel Samoa completed its LTE network in September 2020.

Digicel Samoa’s parent company, Digicel Pacific, has been on the lookout for several months for a potential buyer as it has struggled financially. Various Chinese firms have registered interest in taking a stake, however the Australian government has sought to block further Chinese investment in the region by providing financial support for a local buyer. In October 2021, Telstra agreed to acquire Digicel Group’s Pacific operations for around $1.6 billion, with a considerable financial input from the Australian government.

Similar to other countries in the Pacific Islands, Samoa’s telecoms sector has been inhibited by a lack of international connectivity. While Samoa has had access to the Samoa-America-Samoa (SAS) cable laid in 2009, this cable has insufficient capacity to meet the country’s future bandwidth needs.

This issue was addressed with two new submarine cables that became available in 2018 and 2019. These, combined with the Samoa National Broadband Highway (SNBH), have improved internet data rates and reliability, and have reduced the high costs previously associated with internet access in Samoa.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Australian government contributes $1.33 billion of the $1.6 billion cost for Telstra to acquire Digicel Pacific.
  • Manatua cable is ready for service.

Get a Full Copy of this Report

Developing Telecoms market report summaries are produced in partnership with BuddeCom, the world’s largest continually updated online telecommunications research service.

The above article is a summary of the following BuddeCom report:

Report title: Samoa - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Edition: October 2021

Analyst: Stephen Marshall

Number of pages: 63

Companies mentioned in the report: Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH), Vodafone Samoa, Amper, Blue Sky Samoa, Digicel Samoa, Kacific Broadband Satellite, O3b

Single User PDF Licence Price: US$890

For more information or to purchase a copy of the full report please use the following link: https://www.budde.com.au/Research/Samoa-Telecoms-Mobile-and-Broadband-Statistics-and-Analyses/?r=83

This article is an update to a previous BuddeComm Market Report.

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