PRESS RELEASE

New Project towards Improving Phone, Internet Access in North Pacific

September 6, 2013

PALIKIR, FSM, Sept 6, 2013 ---   People in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of Palau will get better telephone and internet connectivity, with support from a new project announced today by the World Bank.

The US $1.1 million grant was announced by the World Bank Regional Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific, Axel van Trotsenburg  in Palikir, FSM today, during his first official visit to the North Pacific.

The Telecommunications and ICT Technical Assistance Project  aims to help attract new investment and promote competition in the telecommunications sector, and bring down service costs. This will make it easier for governments to deliver services and for communities, families and businesses to communicate and share information.

“Connectivity is critical for job growth, for governments to bring health and education to their people, especially in remote Outer Islands, and for families and businesses to keep in touch,” said van Trotsenburg . “This project is an important step for Micronesia. As part of a broader program of support, it will help connect people to each other, to the wider Pacific region, and to the world.”

Access to broadband is low in both countries by international standards, and in Palau connectivity costs are among the highest in the world. An entry-level high-speed internet connection costs 15 times more than in Fiji and around 18 times more than in Australia. Less than two percent of the population, in both countries, subscribes to high-speed internet services.

In addition to regulatory and policy reform, the World Bank will also support preparations for a possible project to connect Palau and FSM to broadband internet via an underwater fibre-optic cable from Guam, as part of the second phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program.

The technical assistance project for FSM and Palau is being funded by the Government of Australia through a grant from the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility.