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Guam launches $11.4M project to expand broadband in southern villages

Updated: Feb 21

By Frank Whitman

If all goes according to plan, in about two years residents of southern Guam will be enjoying faster, more reliable internet service.

Local telecommunications provider IT&E has begun work on an $11.4 million

project to upgrade the island’s broadband network and install a buried

fiber-optic network around the southern part of Guam.

The Guam Southern Ring Buried Fiber Optic Cable and 5G project, as it is known, is funded by a grant to the government of Guam from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology

servicing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Workers are installing 73 miles of fiber-optic cable beginning in Piti, extending around the southern end of the island and ending in Chalan Pago.

Work on the project began Jan. 10.

The project includes the upgrade of 26 towers in the south with 5G technology, said Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio during a press conference at Adelup on Feb. 20 announcing the project.

Tenorio noted how the project will help fill the vital role communications play during disasters and disaster recovery such as Guam experienced with Typhoon Mawar in May 2023. “We found ourselves in a situation where there were not reliable communications to update the people of Guam on the status of the typhoon recovery efforts and our ability to rebuild,” he said.

“This project is going to provide access to fiber-optic technology and infrastructure that previously did not exist.”

The underground cable will be less vulnerable to high winds. IT&E CEO David Gibson said the project is important for future upgrades as technology advances.

“This fiber infrastructure is really going to be the spine of the network that’s going to not only allow for high-speed internet access for your residences and businesses, but really it’s going to be the platform that really future-proofs our ability to provide more access as technology evolves,” he said.

When 6G comes out, it will be easier to “make technology migrations off of

this network."

Gibson, who became CEO of IT&E in mid-January, saluted the IT&E operations team working on the project, “There’s really three tenets that these guys hold true and fast as they go through the project,” he said. “The first one is that

we’re really trying to make sure that we have a typhoon- and impact-weather-resistant network.”

The second tenet is being environmentally responsible providers. “The care that we take to make sure that we’re not impacting Guam’s environment really is second to none,” he said.

“Finally and perhaps most importantly, the sensitivity around potential cultural artifacts along the route is something that our team, again, has put great pains to make sure that our progress isn’t disrespectful of our past. So while this project could go faster, we’re taking the time to make sure that we’re doing it right to serve everyone and respect our heritage here.”

Earlier in February, IT&E announced that it had upgraded its network in Tamuning including the main tourist district of Tumon to 5G. “The introduction of 5G technology expands IT&E's network capacity to alleviate network congestion, decrease latency, and enhance user experience for both residential and enterprise subscribers,” the company stated in a release

announcing the upgrade Feb. 2.

“High-speed Internet service is not a luxury – it's a necessity,” said Geoff Jordan, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Program, NTIA. “This project will help bridge the digital divide and connect hundreds of families in Guam to affordable, reliable Internet service.”

This increased availability includes the minimum broadband speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads with 3 Mbps for uploads to 4,900 locations and at least 100 Mbps for downloads with 20 Mbps uploads to more than 1,500 locations. 

“Closing the digital gap with increased access and higher internet speeds will strengthen business and job opportunities and improve service delivery programs in health and education that our residents in the south can benefit from,” Tenorio said.

The combined solutions will create a broadband system that can evolve for future advanced services and technologies, and the buried fiber network will provide greater network resiliency against typhoons and other natural disasters.”


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