Kacific satellite delivering 1Gbps to Tonga after dispute ‘resolved’

Kacific satellite delivering 1Gbps to Tonga after dispute ‘resolved’

Christian Patouraux Kacific.jpg

The government of Tonga has temporarily suspended its dispute with satellite company Kacific so that it can provide 1Gbps to the volcano-hit islands.

Now Singapore-based Kacific says it has restored broadband services to the country, whose subsea cables were broken when the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted on 15 January.

“We’re extremely pleased that we have now been able to resolve the impasse in providing connectivity,” said Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux (pictured).

“We have many friends and partners in Tonga who are aware that we understand and deeply sympathise with the difficulties they have been facing. Their efforts have helped us secure the approvals we needed to provide this essential service.”

Capacity reported last week that a US$5.7m dispute between the government of Tonga and satellite company Kacific was delaying moves to provide internet and phone services until the islands’ subsea cables are restored.

The government had still not paid Kacific for a 15-year deal, signed three years ago, to provide satellite back-up in just such an eventuality. Kacific said it was “standing by” to connect the islands and its 105,000 people.

Since then both Intelsat and SES have reported that they are providing services to Tonga, in association with companies such as Optus, Spark and Telstra, based in Australia and New Zealand.

It’s not yet clear how the Kacific-Tonga dispute has been resolved, though it was Kacific that informed Capacity that it has been able to restore services.

Someone close to the industry in the region said they were “unlikely to be able to provide further information about aspects of this”.

But it seems that Kacific has now been cleared by the Tongan telecommunications regulator to provide services to several telecom operators and service providers within Tonga. Kacific described the move as “a breakthrough” that took place “when the regulator lifted a ban on the use of Kacific’s services”, that had been imposed “due to arbitration proceedings between Kacific and the Tongan government”.

People are already using the 1Gbps service, said the company, via its Kacific1 satellite, with the bandwidth “shared among the telecom operators and service providers, enabling immediate relief to emergency services”.

Later, the bandwidth can be “used for a wide range of activities: supporting mobile networks, connecting communities in remote outer islands or providing high-quality internet connectivity to businesses and agencies”.



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