Outer Islands Internet Access

Just a curiosity here, please feel free ignore at will.

How many of the outer islands have internet connectivity? Of the ones that do, is the connectivity "decent". I know that is a totally subjective term but are the connection usable, at least? Do the schools have it?


  • Pingelap and the Mortlocks are the only outer islands with Internet Access. The speed is 256kbps up and down but it is on a 10 to 1 ratio and it is 256kbps burst.

    It is quite usable as people are posting pictures and Skyping people but at a cost of a little under $400.00 a month.
  • This is public access like ED1, correct?
  • Kaselehlie xectms,

    I work for the Pohnpei Department of Education, and will tell you what I know re: internet in outer islands and internet in schools.

    There is wifi in Pingelap that was--I've been told by colleagues at the Pohnpei DOE--meant for the school that was instead installed at the dispensary. Whether it's public access or not, I'm not sure. Pingelap School does not have internet access, though the school's staff are able to check and send emails when instructional hours are completed by going to the dispensary. I'm also advised that it's the Pingelap Municpal Government that pays for the internet (my source for this being the folks at Drakies or Trakies--that place where you get $3 ramen near 4TY.)

    No outer island school that is also a municipality (Sapwuahfik, Kapingamarangi, etc.) has internet. Every main island school has internet access except Salapwuk. Salapwuk is, in most practical matters, the most remote school in the state because the outer island schools can radio in to the main office and by using a service called WaveMail can send and receive emails over the radio. Salapwuk doesn't even have a phone. I'm told there are logistical issues in getting the school these things, but I don't have the expertise to know what those issues are.

    Pakein--which is an outer island in practice even though it's part of Sokehs (it's literally an atoll separated from the main island)--has ED1 wifi. It's hosted at the school. The school, therefore, has internet--but whether it's used by the school or not is a different question, as to my knowledge they don't have a projector or any computers for the students to use.

    Some main island schools have improved internet. All the public high schools have new computer labs installed these year, with new computers, air conditioners, and 5MBS internet for research and differentiated instruction materials like Achieve 3000. But most schools, e.g. Wone School, have internet but only at the office. Some schools, like Saladak School, have new computer labs (theirs is in their library, and it is very nice) but their internet is too slow at present to do many of the things people would want to be able to do.

    Many teachers, then, use the internet to download materials and then use them for classes later. A teacher named Dean, the Teacher of the Year in SY 16-17, will often download science videos from YouTube and then show them as part of his various lessons. So, for example, if he was teaching about volcanoes, he'd have his various drawings, handouts, various group-based games, have students make volcanoes with their baking soda and vinegar and whatever, and show'em a couple of videos about volcanoes erupting or how they're formed. But he can't actually use the internet during instructional hours because it's too slow to realistically do what he'd need it to do. (This isn't helped, frankly, by the lack of a means of cracking down on Facebook and uTorrent at our schools.)

    Most schools only use the internet to submit data to the PDOE's database, check PDOE email, etc., though we have developed a plan to get fiber optic to all of the schools. Whether it happens or not is dependent largely on, to my understanding, the political process in Pohnpei State and however the unallocated funds associated with the Compact work, and I've heard rather mixed messages on that from several different parties. (I don't deal with money or the politics, in any form, so I don't really know those details.)

    If you've noticed construction at the PDOE office, it's the IT wing that's being developed. We've bought a bunch of servers, partly in preparation for the national government rolling out the FedEMIS database for all FSM DOEs, and are planning to at least start piloting fiber optic at the main office, SPED office, and PICS next academic year.

    Otherwise, at my apartment in Daini I can report that my internet seems to go in and out a lot. Even at night, sometimes I can watch a YouTube of professional StarCraft 2 players in the latest tournament at 360p and other times I cannot do it at even 144p or whatever the lowest setting is. And I don't share my internet with anyone except my wife, so...IDK.

    I hope you have my found my answer thorough and satisfying.

    Ni wahu,
  • edited May 1
    Interesting. Yes, sir. Your reply was quite thorough and very informative.

    New infrastructure, especially for IT folks, is always a plus.

    Content filtering is doable. Not too difficult to configure in a Cisco device, given you take the black list approach (deny by exception)- the white list crap is a bit overkill for our neck of the woods anyways. There is also a slew of software out there that can effectively do the same... probably better than the box in Cisco Blue. Either way, it shouldn't be too difficult a task.

    The difficulty reaching the outer islands is understandable- geographically disparate, fiscally challenged, technologically chasing the bus; the odds just seem stacked up against them. It doesn't help that, aside from possibly Pakin (possibly within the reach of high-sensitivity, NLOS, using elevation to ensure fresnel alignment), there are no ways of extending terrestrial based connections to these folks. Should we, as a nation, seriously consider providing hub services for these folks? All it takes (I say that like it's actually simple, smh) is to install a Master Reference Terminal and a decent sized aperture dish. One hub on Pohnpei to land the traffic and forward on to the fiber, en route to the digital space, servicing terminals in remote locations across the country.
    Spectrum selection would kind of be an interesting question though... cheap transmission is usually based on spectrum that is highly susceptible to rain fade. I might be getting a little TOO into the weeds here though.

    The problems and road blocks, caused by the unique geographical and fiscal nature of the terrain, would certainly make this one of the more interesting places to wrestle the network- what we used to fondly refer to as "the beast" in my former life.

  • Good topic xectms. As to your question of outer islands: Are you asking about all Outer Islands?

    FYI, only Pakin and Ahnd atoll have decent wireless internet in Pohnpe; 1 Mbps for Pakin and 5 Mbps for Ahnd. Both Pakin and Ahnd are from the closest ADSL port backhauled to the IP Core over fiber, but over Ubiquiti microwave links to the respective islands. Challenge is the corrosive environment that often leads to corroded CAT5 plugs and other metal parts. Pingelap and previously Sapwuahfik are over a 256k link to a geo-sat bird that contributes to +500 ms latency at over $300/ month rate. This sat and internet link was through the SPC and other vendors besides the FSMTC so there is little to no decent maintenance on the inks or equipment.

    Xectms, you are right that one of the challenges of providing internet services to outer islands is sustainability.

    In Yap, Ulithi is on 3G and has a local wifi service, point to point from the hub in Ulithi to IOM building also in Ulithi. The link is a symmetrical 2.5 Mbps over geo satellite to Pohnpei so there is a bit of latency, but usable.

    There are FSMTC techs arriving Oneop, Moch and Satawan in the lower Mortlocks this week - 5/3 - 5//6/2018 to start the civil works to construct foundations for 120 foot towers, 1KW solar power system and a 3.8 Meter satellite dish plus other equipment. These are 3 of 6 sites that will be installed in Chuuk Outer islands. The base stations will be 3G enabled to provide for voice and internet via mobile. Satellite links will be the same as Ulithi - 2.5 Mbps symmetrical and there will be 3 hubs with microwave links to tie in the other 3 sites to the hubs.

    The Chuuk Outer Island connectivity project is possible through funding from the Chuuk Congressional Delegation. Yap and Pohnpei Outer Island can be made possible but financing is a challenge most especially since the Yap and Pohnpei Outer island populations are questionable to sustain a satellite link and cellular site. On the other hand, the Lower Mortlocks' population justified a business case going forward.

    It's all about availability of funding and sustainability. If you pour money into something, you would want it to be sustainable and generate sufficient revenue to sustain itself.


  • @Juliet

    I was inquiring about all the outer islands, to answer your question. My main curiosity was purely academic. It just dawned on me, one random day, that choosing to live on some of these plush, paradise locations come at a cost. Not being connected to the information grid can cause a severe disadvantage- for kids and schools mostly. The question popped in my head so I figured asking wouldn't hurt, right?

    It's good to hear services are being extended to some of the farther reaches of this nation. It's a shame the less densely populated areas have to be shelved but, like you said, transponder space isn't free (nor is it cheap) so, unless Elon Musk invents affordable celestial transmission, I guess things will have to do as they are.

    Thank you for the thorough reply. It was very informative.

  • imagethis is very good and informative reply, thank you!
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