Guam telecom submarine cable study approved

Senator Telo Taitague (PNC file photo)

Senators have approved Minority Leader Telo Taitague’s Bill 56 which establishes a task force to review information, conduct a feasibility study, and develop policy recommendations concerning submarine cables connected to Guam.

Approximately 11 submarine cables either pass through or terminate on Guam, with an additional 2 cables which were projected to be ready for service in the last quarter of 2019. In addition to local telecom providers, other major companies operating in a consortium include AT&T, Tata Telecom, RTI, TPG, Google, Verizon, and SoftBank.

Submarine cables are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and other entities such as the U.S. EPA, Department of State, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, have a role in regulation. The FCC is responsible for issuing a Submarine Cable Landing License to entities that own and operate submarine cables and cable landing stations connecting U.S. jurisdictions to foreign countries. This also applies when cable is laid in international waters connecting the continental U.S. to Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories and U.S. possessions.

The feasibility study required by Bill 56 includes specific parameters focusing on expanding the telecom industry through a complete assessment of workforce needs and potential incentive programs for data centers. The study may also lead to the modernization of tax policies specific to the telecom industry and help decision-makers determine whether Guam is positioned to attract and support additional submarine cable investments.

“We’ve heard over many years different governors talk about submarine/fiber-optic cables and the importance of this industry to the growth of Guam’s economy. Despite GEDA’s recent establishment of a telecom committee, not much has been done to bring together the private sector, industry experts, and local and federal government agencies on this matter,” Senator Taitague stated.

“Bill 56 does not set up barriers for economic growth in the submarine cables industry – this measure builds understanding, trust, and community support for responsible growth. Bill 56 recognizes that Guam is not just located strategically from a military viewpoint, but that our island is located strategically from a position of economic opportunity and strength which should benefit ALL the People of Guam!”