Internet cost cheap says Samoa regulator

Apia, Samoa (PHOTO: Alvaro Hoyos)

Samoa Telecommunication regulator, Lematua Gisa Purcell has maintained that the current internet price is cheaper compared to previous years and the network cost will drop again before the end of the year. 

Lematua made the comments in response to growing concerns raised in Parliament over the high cost of internet despite major IT infrastructure available locally. 

The Opposition Leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has challenged the Regulator and the Minister of Communication Information and Technology (MCIT) to do something about the expensive connectivity costs. 

In response to queries from the Samoa Observer, Regulator Lematua said: “The internet is cheaper at the moment compared to when I started in November 2020 and will continue to be cheaper.”

Lematua added this is because Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC) dropped its wholesale price for capacity. 

“In October 2023, I approved the reduction of the SSCC wholesale price from US$179 for mbps (megabit per second) to US$69.

“By the time of this approval, the service providers had already submitted their tariffs for 12 months which I approved.”

The Regulator said once the 12-month term tariff expires in 2024 there will be further reductions due to the “cheaper rate of wholesale cost for capacity”.

A heated debate broke out in Parliament last week over the high cost of internet with the Tuilaepa asking what the Regulator’s Office was doing about the issue. 

Tuilaepa told the House these are matters that the office should be monitoring for cost-effective internet using the available infrastructure. 

He said keeping the price high will only force people to go to the extent of purchasing Starlink kits from overseas to connect when the local business can reap those benefits if the internet price is lowered. 

The Minister of MCIT Toelupe Pou Onesemo noted the concerns raised and explained there were changes in policies from the incumbent Government and transition is taking some time. 

Toelupe said there were different factors that the Government looked into not only for the benefit of the service provider but most importantly for the service to be cost-effective for the people. 

He also addressed the difficulty in the transition of the new Government and trying to get the public servants to speak the same language as the Government was a factor for the delays.  In terms of the Starlink, Toelupe confirmed it is still banned and awaiting an application from the provider.