Tonga is back online after cable ship repairs 80km break
Tonga has been reconnected to the world’s subsea cable networks, nearly six weeks after a volcano blew an 80km gap in it.
Digicel Tonga announced earlier today that all its customers are connected to the outside world as data connectivity has been restored in the main island, Tongatapu, and nearby Eua.
Anthony Seuseu (pictured), CEO of Digicel Tonga, said: “Our customers can now connect with friends and family, do their online business with international partners, surf and stream the internet seamlessly and enjoy movies, music, sport, and more on their smart devices.”
Digicel and other telcos on the island have been relying on satellite services, including US-based Intelsat, Singapore-based Kacific and Luxembourg-based SES, since the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano destroyed more than 80km of the Tonga Cable, which connects the island communities to Fiji and the rest of the world.
Seuseu said that resilience of Tonga’s connections would be an issue to plan for. “We have learnt some tough lessons and we know how important internet connection is to our people. The recent incident has also provided the opportunity to our team to look at increased investment and network optimisation to plan and prepare better for a catastrophic event of such nature in the future.”
The international undersea cable between Fiji and the main island of Tongatapu is now in service, but the 410km Tonga Domestic Cable Extension to outlying Tongan islands is still down.
Digicel’s technical team has set up the satellite link to restore connectivity for Ha’apai island and are working on trying to get Vava’u back online this week.
Samiuela Fonua, chair of Tonga Cables, said the repair ship Reliance has already started working on the domestic cable. “The vessel went straight to the domestic cable just this afternoon,” he told Australia’s ABC broadcasting service. This will allow the outer-island groups of Ha’apai and Vava’u to be reconnected.