BY JASMINE STOLE WEISS
For the Journal
Efforts to loop the Kosrae into the existing fiber optic cable connection as part of the multimillion-dollar Digital Federated States of Micronesia project has slowed, but officials continue to work on next steps.
Kosrae state, along with Kiribati and Nauru, were initially supposed to be connected by mid-2021 to the fiber optic cable system, the World Bank said. The World Bank-funded project has allowed parts of the FSM to connect to faster broadband internet through fiber optic cables. Submarine cable systems for Yap were completed in mid-2018, followed by Chuuk in mid-2019, according to the World Bank.
As for the Kosrae component, a World Bank spokesperson said in an Aug. 20 email, “The process has concluded without an award due to non-responsiveness to the requirements of the
“Since the recipients’ decision is based on a procurement process that involves confidential and proprietary information of several companies, the World Bank cannot provide additional comments on the process. We are now working with the respective governments, including Federated States of Micronesia (Kosrae State) and Kiribati, to map out the next steps for these projects,” the spokesperson told the Journal.
Questions to FSMT Cable Corp., the fiber optic cable company that owns the cables for the government and is responsible for painting the fiber network, about updates to the project were not returned as of press time.
The FSMTCC website, fsmcable.com, provides little information about the Kosrae connection, saying only that the fiber optic cable to connect Kosrae will start in 2020.
While Kosrae waits for its broadband internet connection, the Yap connection has been boosted by a new telecommunication company, iBoom.
After securing its license in 2019, iBoom has been able to build and train a local workforce, according to Lubuw Falanruw, founder and CEO of iBoom. Falanruw, who is Yapese, said iBoom provides internet services and has a local operation in Yap that provides workforce training.
iBoom connected Yap Catholic High School to broadband internet and in a July video, the school director of development Joshua Libyan Tun said the internet connection improved from what used to be a laggy experience.
“With iBoom what we’ve seen is that students have been able to get instant access to the internet and actually use the entire tools and activities …the internet has to offer,” Tun said in the school’s video.
Falanruw said iBoom has a bigger vision beyond telecommunications. The iBoom team envisions creating alternative economies, bringing the islands into the modern telecommunications fold while maintaining the traditions and customs unique to the people.
“It’s going to be a journey,” Falanruw said. “It’s going to be very challenging and very uncomfortable but we’re going to be in some ways change agents with as much respect and diplomacy as possible because we do respect our leaders and we do support them.” mbj