Yap races to provide broadband to support '18 MicroGames

March 4, 2018

 The Olympic torch for the 2018 MicroGames

(Photo: Joyce McClure)

 

Colonia, Yap-- It's hard  to imagine any modern olympic competition anywhere in the world that doesn't have high speed internet connections to support TV and online coverage of its events. This has been a big concern for organizers in Yap, given its famously slow connections and the impending July start of the games.

 

Fortunately, there are some good signs. An 'Open Access Entity' is now in place in the FSM to ensure that the government-owned fiber optic equipment is available to competitive telecom companies and the last 4 3/4 miles of installation of Yap’s cable is getting underway.  The remote island’s long-awaited entry into the age of fast internet connectivity is scheduled for the end of June, just in time for the games. A final, tight timeline was presented Jan. 30 by Jerry Tourgee, an independent technical project manager, and Luke Gowing, safeguards monitor of Argo Environmental Ltd., to state officials.  Both are working for the World Bank, funder of the $60 million grant-supported project.

 

The process of jumping through established hoops required by the World Bank to meet the contractual criteria for the grant was held back for several months as the access entity was established.  FSM Telecom and the new OAE have now come to an agreement on the use of land and facilities to support the Yap Spur System. In addition, the FSM government has issued a waiver for sole source selection of a contractor to renovate and provision the Cable Landing Station near the old airport and install the cable from the Fronthaul beach hole on the south end of the island to the Landing Station. Equipment testing, trials and acceptance will be conducted when the cable installation is completed. All required environmental and social impact statements were prepared and submitted to the EPA in 2017.  There is also work to be done in Guam with the inter-island connection to hook up with the Hantru System, the main trunk that connects to the lines running outward to the islands. “But we are now in a position to begin the work in Yap,” said Tourgee. 

 

The FSM government allocated $1 million for this final leg of the process for Yap and Chuuk to get it started while the agreement was being worked out, paving the way for the installation.

 

Just in case it doesn't get done in time, satellite backup is being arranged

 

So what happens if the timeline isn’t met in time for the Micro Games? According to Francis Itimai, co-chair of the 2018 Micro Games Organizing Committee, “During a meeting with Fredy Perman, CEO of FSMTC , we were informed that FSMTC met with their counterparts at the Palau National Communications Corporation and agreed that they will partner to buy enough bandwidth from the Palau 03B Satellite connectivity to re-direct the needed capacity of unused satellite-based bandwidth from Palau to Yap for the duration of the Micro Games.  We are confident that, one way or the other, we will have the internet capability required to support the officials, athletes, coaches, media and others who will be here in July. FSMTC has been a sponsor of the Micro Games for many years and they are committed, as a sponsor of this year’s event in Yap, to give us the support we need.”

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