One of the things that everyone needs when traveling is a mobile signal and an internet connection. While in Samoa, you have two providers: Digicel Samoa and BlueSky Samoa. As of 2013, Digicel is only decent in Apia itself. I am sure they have gotten better since then.
The government sold off SamoaTel to BlueSky American Samoa and they re-branded as BlueSky Samoa. They promised to give the people better service at a lower cost. They did keep their word about better service but not so much on the lower cost part. At least, from what I can tell.
The internet is still quite expensive in Samoa!
You will need to use a Speednet Dongle
If you are outside of Apia (most people come to Samoa to be outside of a city!) you will need a Speednet Dongle that you plug into your laptop. It allows you to get data from the GSM tower (cellphone tower). It works across the nation at this point.
The good news is that is quite available and you won’t get dropped connection in the middle of a Skype call with a client. When they upgraded from 3G to 4G, alot of things were fixed and the system worked much, much better. I was there when all of this was happening.
The bad news for the customer is that using the service is quite pricy. It is .20 Tala for a MB. That works out to $81.25 USD per GB. If you work alot online, that is pricy. If you do anything with 4k video, forget it!
My suggestion would be to use it only for text based social media while traveling outside the city. Wait until you get to Apia for video and image uploading. It is not cheap using paid wifi but it is not freaking $81 a GB. That is for sure!
What is BlueSky Samoa’s paid wifi?
Last year, they rolled out BlueZone. It is something they have had in American Samoa for years. They partner with restaurants and hotels to sell time on wifi. There is no such thing as free wifi in Samoa. They currently offer 8 hours of internet for $70 Tala ($28). It is much better than $81 a GB but still not cheap at all.
One way you could save some money is they do offer a 12 hour marathon card but you have to use it all in one setting. If you have alot of videos to upload, it might be worth it. That is $50 Tala or $20 USD.
Some thoughts on the internet in Samoa
The biggest reason that people do not spend more time in Samoa is the internet cost. It is why I cut my time there short and left for Fiji. American Samoa and Fiji can both provide internet for a tenth of the cost in Samoa. This is the biggest issue to address if they want to attract backpackers who will stay for a month or more.
I do realize that the Prime Minister is not that techy of a guy and without his support, it is very hard to get much done in Samoa. The cycle won’t end, I guess.