Palau is an archipelago small nation in the western Pacific Ocean, made up of roughly 340 islands across an area of 466 square kilometers. An independent nation since the 1981, Palau is governed as a presidential republic and home to more than 21,000 people. With a GDP per capita of about $16,000, Palau’s economy consists of primarily of tourism, fishing and subsistence agriculture, with significant financial assistance from the United States. Being one of the most world-famous diving destinations, Palau hosts over 100,000 tourists per year.
The limited population, expansive geography and the remoteness of the island nation has made serving the residents of Palau and their tourist guests with telecommunications services especially difficult. Because of the diverse geography, the island has depended on VHF wireless radios and pre-paid GSM telephone service as the dominant communications technologies.
Palau Telecom is one of two service providers that compete to offer the islands with internet and VHF.
With only satellite links available, access to the rest of world has historically been very limited and expensive, with high minute-based rates for international calling and poor internet penetration. The result is a community that is isolated with little access to internet services and information – things that most of the world depend on to improve their economies, education system and healthcare.