Arlington, VA – Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to the Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC) for technical assistance to support the modernization of Palau’s mobile telecommunications network, expand connectivity for its population, and prepare for the rollout of 5G services. USTDA’s assistance represents a coordinated effort by the Quad governments of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States to support the development of resilient, secure, trustworthy, and cost-effective mobile networks in the Pacific Islands.
“USTDA’s partnership with Palau reflects our commitment to support the development of quality digital infrastructure and access to affordable connectivity in the Pacific Islands,” said Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Director. “USTDA’s grant supports a top infrastructure priority for Palau and will expand opportunities for trusted technology partners to deliver next-generation network solutions that meet Palau’s needs.”
With funding from the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership, USTDA’s technical assistance will provide PNCC with the necessary support, including data, analysis, designs, and detailed implementation plans, to replace Palau’s existing national mobile network with secure and trustworthy technology while enhancing service for users. The assistance will also support the expansion of PNCC’s network footprint to underserved areas. Implementation of the project would represent the first commercial deployment of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) architecture in the Pacific Islands.
Open RAN offers several advantages for island countries and rural areas where traditional communications infrastructure may be lacking or limited. These benefits can include lower deployment and operational costs, greater scalability and automation, more diversification and competition among technology suppliers, improved energy efficiency, and momentum toward 5G.
“The substantial support extended by USTDA and our Quad partners significantly accelerates Palau’s journey towards a comprehensive digital transformation,” said PNCC Chief Executive Officer, Simon Fraser. “This initiative is not just about upgrading our mobile telecommunications network, but also about empowering everyone in Palau, and enhancing our economy by providing state-of-the-art digital infrastructure.”
“On behalf of all of the team at PNCC, I would like to express our profound gratitude to the USTDA and the Quad governments – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – for their partnership and investment in our future. This project embodies our commitment to provide world-class connectivity services to our customers, and to harness digital technology to shape a future full of promise and opportunity for Palau.”
“Programs like this one show the U.S.’s commitment to collaboration and cooperation between our two countries,” said Whitney Baird, U.S. Department of State, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. “We look forward to this ever-broadening partnership and the benefits it will produce in the coming years.”
This new technical partnership represents a critical step in Palau’s network modernization effort, which was announced by the White House and Quad leaders before the Quad Leaders’ Summit on May 20, 2023. This project, aligned with the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and the Indo-Pacific Strategy, will position Palau as a regional leader in the development of advanced digital infrastructure and connectivity.
U.S. companies interested in submitting proposals for the USTDA-funded technical assistance should visit www.ustda.gov/work/bid-on-an-overseas-project.
USTDA grant-signing ceremony, Koror, Palau, June 21, 2023
Photo from left to right:
Pooja V. Vernekar, Political Counselor, Embassy of India; Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., President of Palau; Whitney Baird, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Simon Fraser, Chief Executive Officer, Palau National Communications Corporation; Carmen Cantor, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Interior; Richelle Turner, Ambassador, Embassy of Australia; James Boughner, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., U.S. Embassy; Mayu Hagiwara, Charge d’ Affaires a.i., Embassy of Japan.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority infrastructure projects in emerging economies. USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries.
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