Broadband in Northern Islands  a step closer


Northern Islands Mayor’s Office staff, along with Marianas Wireless chief executive officer Roy Ortizo, second from left, set up the satellite receiver for a demonstration at the NI Mayor’s Office grounds last Friday. If installation is successful this weekend or next weekend, there will be broadband internet service available for the island of Alamagan and later, Agrigan and Pagan. (LEIGH GASES)

Satellite broadband internet service may be possible in the Northern Islands if plans to execute its installation this weekend or next weekend is a success.

The internet access will be powered by Kacific Satellite HTS broadband Satellite Internet Service through the local communications service company, Marianas Wireless.

Alamagan is one of the few islands in the Northern Islands that has a permanent population, in this case numbering less than 10. The rest who will be using the broadband service are staff of the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office who will be visiting the island from time to time.

The installation on Alamagan was originally scheduled for last weekend, but due to choppy waters that made it a hazard for sea travel, the planned installation was tentatively moved to this Saturday, Feb. 11. If the weather and high surf is still imminent, it might be rescheduled again.

In an interview with Northern Islands Mayor Valentino Taisacan, he said he is excited for this step of progress for the Northern Islands.

“I’m really excited. It’s not that much internet speed, but it’s at least something to get us moving forward now,” he said.

Alamagan is one out of three islands that may potentially have access to broadband internet as Taisacan is in discussion to have it also on Agrigan and Pagan.

Taisacan said that internet access is significant. “There will be more communication. Right now, we have SSB radios (a type of short-wave radio equipment)—on bad weather days, we can’t use it. We don’t really have a clear communication between islands, so I’m hoping this will solve that issue.”

Looking ahead, Taisacan is hoping to expand the range of the signal on each island “so it’ll be easier to hook up to and contact Saipan when there’s an emergency.”

Last Friday, NI Mayor’s staff, along with Roy Ortizo, chief executive officer of Marianas Wireless, set up a demo satellite dish receiver at the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office grounds to prepare for the actual installation on Alamagan.

Ortizo said, “it was a prudent and critical decision for Mayor [Taisacan] to get the services of Kacific to put his remote municipality online and into the present. …I can now say that the fear of NMI isolation from the rest of the world is gone.”

“This installation will be our second attempt to provide internet service after the first attempt to install it [on] Pagan last year failed due to inexperience in satellite terminal installation. This time, I myself will lead the installation,” said Ortizo.

He also thanked Wendell Posadas from the Northern Marianas Technical Institute for his assistance with the service.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Kacific1 was launched successfully into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16, 2019. It’s a satellite that was intended to provide broadband internet service to large swaths of the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Kacific Broadband Satellites Group was founded by CEO Christion Patouraux in 2013, and is headquartered in Singapore.

Kacific sells internet access via wholesale channels to government agencies, institutions, businesses, community groups, and households.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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